Wittgenstein's philosophical grammar: A neglected discussion of vagueness

Philosophical Investigations 33 (2):159-183 (2010)
Abstract
In this paper I explore a neglected discussion of vagueness put forward by Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Grammar (1932–34). In this work, unlike Philosophical Investigations (1953), Wittgenstein not only discusses the venerable Sorites paradox but provides a novel conception of vagueness using an analogy with coin tossing and converging intervals. As he sees it, the problematic picture of vagueness arises because we conflate aspects of the functioning of vague concepts with those of non-vague ones. Thus, while we accept that vague concepts have no sharp cut-off points (are boundaryless), we nevertheless retain the idea that we can progress towards the penumbra the way we progress towards the cut-off points of non-vague concepts. As a potential remedy, Wittgenstein's analogy with coin tossing and converging intervals replaces this picture and provides an understanding of the functioning of vague concepts in which no notion of a progression arises.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9205.2009.01381.x
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