Vagueness and Margin for Error Principles

Timothy Williamson’s potentially most important contribution to epistemicism about vagueness lies in his arguments for the basic epistemicist claim that the alleged cut-off points of vague predicates are not knowable. His arguments for this are based on so-called ‘margin for error principles’. This paper argues that these principles fail to provide a good argument for the basic claim. Williamson has offered at least two kinds of margin for error principles applicable to vague predicates. A certain fallacy of equivocation (on the meaning of ‘knowable’) seems to underlie his justification for both kinds of principles. Besides, the margin for error principles of the first kind can be used in the derivation of unacceptable consequences, while the margin for error principles of the second kind can be shown to be compatible with the falsity of epistemicism, under a number of assumptions acceptable to the epistemicist
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2002.tb00145.x
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Anna Mahtani (2004). The Instability of Vague Terms. Philosophical Quarterly 54 (217):570–576.

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