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  1. Jonas Åkerman (2014). Unruly Words: A Study of Vague Language. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 201403.
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  2. Thomas Bittner (2003). Vague Reference and Approximating Judgements. Spatial Cognition and Computation 3 (2):137–156.
    We propose a new account of vagueness and approximation in terms of the theory of granular partitions. We distinguish different kinds of crisp and non-crisp granular partitions and we describe the relations between them, concentrating especially on spatial examples. We describe the practice whereby subjects use regular grid-like reference partitions as a means for tempering the vagueness of their judgments, and we demonstrate how the theory of reference partitions can yield a natural account of this practice, which is referred to (...)
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  3. Thomas Bittner & Barry Smith (2003). Granular Partitions and Vagueness. In Chris Welty & Barry Smith (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS). ACM Press.
    There are some who defend a view of vagueness according to which there are intrinsically vague objects or attributes in reality. Here, in contrast, we defend a view of vagueness as a semantic property of names and predicates. All entities are crisp, on this view, but there are, for each vague name, multiple portions of reality that are equally good candidates for being its referent, and, for each vague predicate, multiple classes of objects that are equally good candidates for being (...)
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  4. Murray Code (1995). Myths of Reason: Vagueness, Rationality, and the Lure of Logic. Humanities Press.
  5. Matti Eklund (2007). Characterizing Vagueness. Philosophy Compass 2 (6):896–909.
    Philosophy Compass 2: 896-909. (Link to Philosophy Compass.).
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  6. Carl G. Hempel (1939). Vagueness and Logic. Philosophy of Science 6 (2):163-180.
    As is rather generally admitted today, the terms of our language in scientific as well as in everyday use, are not completely precise, but exhibit a more or less high degree of vagueness. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the consequences of this circumstance for a series of questions which belong to the field of logic. First of all, the meaning and the logical status of the concept of vagueness will be analyzed; then we will try to (...)
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  7. Stephen Leeds (2000). A Disquotationalist Looks at Vagueness. Philosophical Topics 28 (1):107--28.
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  8. Mihai Nadin (1980). The Logic of Vagueness and the Category of Synechism. The Monist 63 (3):351-363.
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  9. Douglas Odegard (1965). Excluding the Middle From Loose Concepts. Theoria 31 (2):138-144.
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  10. Rohit Parikh (1994). Vagueness and Utility: The Semantics of Common Nouns. [REVIEW] Linguistics and Philosophy 17 (6):521 - 535.
    A utility-based approach to the understanding of vague predicates (VPs) is proposed. It is argued that assignment of truth values to propositions containing VPs entails unjustifiable assumptions of consensus; two models of VP semantics are criticized on this basis: (1) the super-truth theory of Kit Fine (1975), which requires an unlikely consensus on base points; (2) the fuzzy logic of Lotfi Zadeh (1975), on fuzzy truth values of sentences. Pragmatism is held to provide a key: successful behavior justifies a person's (...)
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  11. C. S. Peirce (1902). Vague. In J. M. Baldwin (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology. Macmillan.
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  12. Barry Smith (2003). Aristoteles 2002. In T. Buchheim (ed.), Kann man heute noch etwas anfangen mit Aristoteles? Meiner.
    The essay surveys recent developments in ontology and defends a strategy for improvement of ontologies based on ontological realism. As a thought experiment, we consider central theses of Aristotelian metaphysics, and show how they fall short of what we believe to be the requirements of ontology today. Above all, Aristotle provides us with no strategy for the reconciliation of common-sense realism and scientific realism where these diverge. We focus specifically on shortfalls in Aristotle’s treatment of individual accidents, especially in regard (...)
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Contextual Theories of Vagueness
  1. Jonas Åkerman (2012). Contextualist Theories of Vagueness. Philosophy Compass 7 (7):470-480.
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  2. Jonas Åkerman (2011). Vagueness, Semantics and Psychology. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242):1-5.
    According to extension-shifting theories of vagueness, the extensions of vague predicates have sharp boundaries, which shift as a function of certain psychological factors. Such theories have been claimed to provide an attractive explanation of the appeal of soritical reasoning. I challenge this claim: the demand for such an explanation need not constrain the semantics of vague predicates at all.
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  3. Jonas Åkerman & Patrick Greenough (2010). Hold the Context Fixed, Vagueness Still Remains. In Sebastiano Moruzzi & Richard Dietz (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Oxford University Press. 275--88.
    Contextualism about vagueness (hereafter ‘Contextualism’) is the view that vagueness consists in a particular species of context-sensitivity and that properly accommodating this fact into our semantic theory will yield a plausible solution to the sorites paradox.[1],[2] But Contextualism, as many commentators have noted, faces the following immediate objection: if we hold the context fixed, vagueness still remains, therefore vagueness is not a species of context-sensitivity. Call this ‘the simple objection’.[3] Absent a convincing reply to the simple objection, Contextualism is in (...)
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  4. Jonas Åkerman & Patrick Greenough (2009). Vagueness and Non-Indexical Contextualism. In Sarah Sawyer (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy of Language. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Contextualism concerning vagueness (hereafter ‘CV’) is a popular response to the puzzle of vagueness.[1] The goal in this paper is to uncover in what ways vagueness may be a particular species of context-sensitivity. The most promising form of CV turns out to be a version of socalled ‘Non-Indexical Contextualism’.[2] In §2, we sketch a generic form of CV (hereafter ‘GCV’). In §3, we distinguish between Truth CV and Content CV. A non-indexical form of CV is a form of Truth CV, (...)
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  5. Jonas Åkerman & Patrick Greenough (2009). Vagueness and Non-Indexical Contextualism. In Sarah Sawyer (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy of Language. Palgrave Macmillan.
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  6. Bert Baumgaertner (2012). Vagueness Intuitions and the Mobility of Cognitive Sortals. Minds and Machines 22 (3):213-234.
    One feature of vague predicates is that, as far as appearances go, they lack sharp application boundaries. I argue that we would not be able to locate boundaries even if vague predicates had sharp boundaries. I do so by developing an idealized cognitive model of a categorization faculty which has mobile and dynamic sortals (`classes', `concepts' or `categories') and formally prove that the degree of precision with which boundaries of such sortals can be located is inversely constrained by their flexibility. (...)
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  7. Susanne Bobzien (2011). In Defense of True Higher-Order Vagueness. Synthese 180 (3):317-335.
    ABSTRACT: Stewart Shapiro recently argued that there is no higher-order vagueness. More specifically, his thesis is: (ST) ‘So-called second-order vagueness in ‘F’ is nothing but first-order vagueness in the phrase ‘competent speaker of English’ or ‘competent user of “F”’. Shapiro bases (ST) on a description of the phenomenon of higher-order vagueness and two accounts of ‘borderline case’ and provides several arguments in its support. We present the phenomenon (as Shapiro describes it) and the accounts; then discuss Shapiro’s arguments, arguing that (...)
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  8. Susanne Bobzien (2010). Higher-Order Vagueness, Radical Unclarity, and Absolute Agnosticism. Philosophers' Imprint 10 (10):1-30.
    The paper presents a new theory of higher-order vagueness. This theory is an improvement on current theories of vagueness in that it (i) describes the kind of borderline cases relevant to the Sorites paradox, (ii) retains the ‘robustness’ of vague predicates, (iii) introduces a notion of higher-order vagueness that is compositional, but (iv) avoids the paradoxes of higher-order vagueness. The theory’s central building-blocks: Borderlinehood is defined as radical unclarity. Unclarity is defined by means of competent, rational, informed speakers (‘CRISPs’) whose (...)
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  9. Matti Eklund (2006). Book Review. Vagueness in Context. Stewart Shapiro. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  10. Matti Eklund (2006). Review of Stewart Shapiro, Vagueness in Context. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (5).
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  11. Jonathan Ellis (2004). Context, Indexicals and the Sorites. Analysis 64 (4):362–364.
    The reason, according to the contextualist, that precise boundaries for expressions like ‘heap’ or ‘tall for a basketball player’ are so difficult to detect is that when two entities are sufficiently similar (or saliently similar), we tend to shift the interpretation of the vague expression so that if one counts as falling in the extension of the property expressed by that expression, so does the other. As a conse- quence, when we look for the boundary of the extension of a (...)
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  12. Delia Graff Fara, Generalizing From the Instances.
    ABSTRACT: If an event of one kind does not always lead to an event of a second given kind, it does not follow (of course) that the occurrence of an event of the first kind can never explain the occurrence of an event of the second kind. I’m concerned here with cases of belief. In the service of defending a plausible “boundary-shifting” solution to the sorites paradox, I argue that a certain paradoxical belief(in the universally-generalized premise of the sorites paradox) (...)
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  13. Delia Graff Fara (2008). Profiling Interest Relativity. Analysis 68 (4):326-335.
    Draft (Version 1.1, October 2007): (PDF file) A reply to Jason Stanley’s Analysis criticism of my interest-relative view on vagueness.
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  14. Delia Graff Fara (2008). Profiling Interest Relativity. Analysis 68 (300):326-335.
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  15. Delia Graff Fara (2000). Shifting Sands: An Interest Relative Theory of Vagueness. Philosophical Topics 28 (1):45--81.
    I propose that the meanings of vague expressions render the truth conditions of utterances of sentences containing them sensitive to our interests. For example, 'expensive' is analyzed as meaning 'costs a lot', which in turn is analyzed as meaning 'costs significantly greater than the norm'. Whether a difference is a significant difference depends on what our interests are. Appeal to the proposal is shown to provide an attractive resolution of the sorites paradox that is compatible with classical logic and semantics.
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  16. Bryan Frances, The Inevitability of Sharp Cutoffs.
    According to the view I christen sharpism, when Joe says to his daughter in a perfectly ordinary context ‘The Earth is super-duper old’, his claim has an incredibly discriminating truth condition: although it’s true if the Earth is over 347,342,343 years, 2 days, and 17 nanoseconds old, if the Earth is even a nanosecond younger then his claim has some status other than “just plain true”—but we leave open what that new status might be: false, indeterminate, indeterminately indeterminate, meaningless, just (...)
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  17. Haim Gaifman (2011). Erratum To: Vagueness, Tolerance and Contextual Logic. Synthese 179 (3):501 - 502.
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  18. Joshua Gert (2008). Vague Terms, Indexicals, and Vague Indexicals. Philosophical Studies 140 (3):437 - 445.
    Jason Stanley has criticized a contextualist solution to the sorites paradox that treats vagueness as a kind of indexicality. His objection rests on a feature of indexicals that seems plausible: that their reference remains fixed in verb phrase ellipsis. But the force of Stanley’s criticism depends on the undefended assumption that vague terms, if they are a special sort of indexical, must function in the same way that more paradigmatic indexicals do. This paper argues that there can be more than (...)
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  19. Mario Gomez-Torrente (2010). The Sorites, Linguistic Preconceptions, and the Dual Picture of Vagueness. In Richard Dietz & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Vagueness, its Nature and its Logic. Oxford University Press. 228-253.
    I postulate that the extension of a degree adjective is fixed by implicitly accepted non-analytic reference-fixing principles (“preconceptions”) that combine appeals to paradigmatic cases with generic principles designed to expand the extension of the adjective beyond the paradigmatic range. In regular occasions of use, the paradigm and generic preconceptions are jointly satisfied and determine the existence of an extension/anti-extension pair dividing the adjective’s comparison class into two mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive subclasses. Sorites paradoxical occasions of use are irregular occasions (...)
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  20. Delia Graff Fara, Shifting Sands: An Interest-Relative Theory of Vagueness.
    Saul Kripke pointed out that whether or not an utterance gives rise to a liar-like paradox cannot always be determined by checking just its form or content.1 Whether or not Jones’s utterance of ‘Everything Nixon said is true’ is paradoxical depends in part on what Nixon said. Something similar may be said about the sorites paradox. For example, whether or not the predicate ‘are enough grains of coffee for Smith’s purposes’ gives rise to a sorites paradox depends at least in (...)
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  21. Patrick Greenough (2005). Contextualism About Vagueness and Higher-Order Vagueness. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 79 (1):167–190.
    To get to grips with what Shapiro does and can say about higher-order vagueness, it is first necessary to thoroughly review and evaluate his conception of (first-order) vagueness, a conception which is both rich and suggestive but, as it turns out, not so easy to stabilise. In Sections I–IV, his basic position on vagueness (see Shapiro [2003]) is outlined and assessed. As we go along, I offer some suggestions for improvement. In Sections V–VI, I review two key paradoxes of higher-order (...)
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  22. Steven Gross (2009). Review of Stewart Shapiro, Vagueness in Context. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 118 (2):261-266.
    Stewart Shapiro’s book develops a contextualist approach to vagueness. It’s chock-full of ideas and arguments, laid out in wonderfully limpid prose. Anyone working on vagueness (or the other topics it touches on—see below) will want to read it. According to Shapiro, vague terms have borderline cases: there are objects to which the term neither determinately applies nor determinately does not apply. A term determinately applies in a context iff the term’s meaning and the non-linguistic facts determine that they do. The (...)
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  23. Steven Gross (2001). Essays on Linguistic Context-Sensitivity and its Philosophical Significance. Routledge.
    Drawing upon research in philosophical logic, linguistics and cognitive science, this study explores how our ability to use and understand language depends upon our capacity to keep track of complex features of the contexts in which we converse.
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  24. Richard Heck (2003). Semantic Accounts of Vagueness. In J. C. Beall (ed.), Liars and Heaps. OUP.
    Read as a comment on Crispin Wright's \"Vagueness: A Fifth Column Approach\", this paper defends a form of supervaluationism against Wright's criticisms. Along the way, however, it takes up the question what is really wrong with Epistemicism, how the appeal of the Sorities ought properly to be understood, and why Contextualist accounts of vagueness won't do.
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  25. Terry Horgan (2006). Transvaluationism. The Harvard Review of Philosophy 14 (1):. 97-125.
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  26. Gerald Hull, Vagueness Without Indefiniteness.
    Contemporary discussions do not always clearly distinguish two different forms of vagueness. Sometimes focus is on the imprecision of predicates, and sometimes the indefiniteness of statements. The two are intimately related, of course. A predicate is imprecise if there are instances to which it neither definitely applies nor definitely does not apply, instances of which it is neither definitely true nor definitely false. However, indefinite statements will occur in everyday discourse only if speakers in fact apply imprecise predicates to such (...)
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  27. Andrea Iacona (2010). Saying More (or Less) Than One Thing. In Richard Dietz & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Oxford University Press.
    In a paper called 'Definiteness and Knowability', Tim Williamson addresses the question whether one must accept that vagueness is an epistemic phenomenon if one adopts classical logic and a disquotational principle for truth. Some have suggested that one must not, hence that classical logic and the disquotational principle may be preserved without endorsing epistemicism. Williamson’s paper, however, finds ‘no plausible way of substantiating that possibility’. Its moral is that ‘either classical logic fails, or the disquotational principle does, or vagueness is (...)
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  28. Hans Kamp (1981). The Paradox of the Heap. In U. Mönnich (ed.), Aspects of Philosophical Logic. Dordrecht. 225--277.
  29. Rosanna Keefe (2007). Vagueness Without Context Change. Mind 116 (462):275-292.
    In this paper I offer a critique of the recent popular strategy of giving a contextualist account of vagueness. Such accounts maintain that truth-values of vague sentences can change with changes of context induced by confronting different entities (e.g. different pairs through a sorites series). I claim that appealing to context does not help in solving the sorites paradox, nor does it give us new insights into vagueness per se. Furthermore, the contextual variation to which the contextualist is committed is (...)
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  30. David Lewis (1982). Logic for Equivocators. Noûs 16 (3):431-441.
  31. Ruth Manor (2006). Solving the Heap. Synthese 153 (2):171 - 186.
    The present offers a pragmatic solution of the Heap Paradox, based on the idea that vague predicates are “indexical” in the sense that their denotation does not only depend on the context of their use, but it is a function of the context. The analysis is based on the following three claims. The borderlines of vague terms are undetermined in the sense that though they may be determined in some contexts, they may differ from one context to the next. Vagueness (...)
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  32. Matthew Mcgrath (2002). Scott Soames: Understanding Truth. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2):410–417.
  33. Eugene Mills (2004). Williamson on Vagueness and Context-Dependence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (3):635–641.
    Several philosophers offer explanations of linguistic vagueness by appealing to the referential context-dependence of vague terms. Timothy Williamson argues pre-emptively that any such approach must fail, on the grounds that context-dependence is neither necessary nor sufficient for vagueness. He supports this claim, in turn, by example. This paper argues that his examples fail to show that context-dependence is either unnecessary or insufficient for vagueness, and hence that he has failed by his own lights to show that it cannot explain vagueness.
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  34. Stephen Puryear (2013). Frege on Vagueness and Ordinary Language. Philosophical Quarterly 63 (250):120-140.
    Frege supposedly believes that vague predicates have no referent or Bedeutung. But given other things he evidently believes, such a position would seem to commit him to a suspect nihilism according to which assertoric sentences containing vague predicates are neither true nor false. I argue that we have good reason to resist ascribing to Frege the view that vague predicates have no Bedeutung and thus good reason to resist seeing him as committed to the suspect nihilism.
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  35. D. Raffman & S. Shapiro (2003). Theories of Vagueness. Philosophical Review 112 (2):259-262.
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  36. Diana Raffman (2005). How to Understand Contextualism About Vagueness: Reply to Stanley. Analysis 65 (287):244–248.
    accounts in general, contrary to what he seems to think. Stanley’s discussion concerns the dynamic or ‘forced march’ version of the sorites, viz. the version framed in terms of the judgments that would be made by a competent speaker who proceeds step by step along a sorites series for a vague predicate ‘F’. According to Stanley, the contextualist treatment of the paradox is based on the idea that the speaker shifts the content of the predicate whenever necessary to make it (...)
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  37. Diana Raffman (1996). Vagueness and Context-Relativity. Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):175 - 192.
    This paper develops the treatment of vague predicates begun in my "Vagueness Without Paradox" (Philosophical Review 103, 1 [1994]). In particular, I show how my account of vague words dissolves an "eternal" version of the sorites paradox, i.e., a version in which the paradox is generated independently of any particular run of judgments of the items in a sorites series. In so doing I refine the notion of an internal contest, introduced in the earlier paper, and draw a distinction within (...)
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  38. Diana Raffman (1994). Vagueness Without Paradox. Philosophical Review 103 (1):41-74.
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