Gap Principles, Penumbral Consequence, and Infinitely Higher-Order Vagueness

In J. C. Beall (ed.), New Essays on the Semantics of Paradox. Oxford University Press (2003)
Abstract
Philosophers disagree about whether vagueness requires us to admit truth-value gaps, about whether there is a gap between the objects of which a given vague predicate is true and those of which it is false on an appropriately constructed sorites series for the predicate—a series involving small increments of change in a relevant respect between adjacent elements, but a large increment of change in that respect between the endpoints. There appears, however, to be widespread agreement that there is some sense in which vague predicates are gappy which may be expressed neutrally by saying that on any appropriately constructed sorites series for a given vague predicate there will be a gap between the objects of which the predicate is definitely true and those of which it is definitely false. Taking as primitive the operator ‘it is definitely the case that’, abbreviated as ‘D’, we may stipulate that a predicate F is definitely true (or definitely false) of an object just in case ‘DF (a)’, where a is a name for the object, is true (or false) simpliciter.1 This yields the following conditional formulation of a ‘gap principle’: (DΦ(x) ∧ D¬Φ(y)) → ¬R(x, y). Here ‘Φ’ is to be replaced with a vague predicate, while ‘R’ is to stand for a sorites relation for that predicate: a relation that can be used to construct a sorites series for the predicate—such as the relation of being just one millimetre shorter than for the predicate ‘is tall’. Disagreements about the sense in which it is correct to say that vague predicates are gappy can then be recast as disagreements about how to understand the definitely operator. One might give it, for example, a pragmatic construal such as ‘it would not be misleading to assert that’; or an epistemic construal such as ‘it is known that’ or ‘it is knowable that’; or a semantic construal such as ‘it is true that’.
Keywords vagueness  observational predicates  supervaluationism  truth-value gap  higher-order vagueness  sorites paradox
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Citations of this work BETA
Pablo Cobreros (2013). Vagueness: Subvaluationism. Philosophy Compass 8 (5):472-485.
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