Lewis here comments on two key issues: reference and methodology. In this letter, Lewis’s assesses the debate between him and Putnam about reference. Putnam had taken a pessimistic line on the question how words connect to their worldly referents. In short, theoretical descriptions give us only structural truths about the world. But lots of odd, gerrymandered interpretations yield the same collection of structural truths. Our theories are powerless to rule out the gerrymandered interpretations. No matter how many descriptions we add, they only amount to more theory.
By contrast, Lewis believed that descriptions could single out things determinately. He believed in natural properties which function as reference magnets. In this letter Lewis comments on Barry Taylor’s paper `Just More Theory’ (AJP 1989). He concludes that Taylor is probably right that neither side can win over the other without circularity.
Lewis then introduces some musings on philosophical methodology. He recognises that the debate between him and Putnam is effectively deadlocked. Neither side has a non-circular argument against the other. The result is a draw rather than a win. But Lewis is undeterred, because he does not think that this is unusual in philosophy. He argues that a philosophical debate is in general likely to end in a draw rather than a win for one side.