David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Southern Journal of Philosophy 33 (S1):97-126 (1995)
I advocate a two part view concerning vagueness. On one hand I claim that vagueness is logically incoherent; but on the other hand I claim that vagueness is also a benign, beneficial, and indeed essential feature of human language and thought. I will call this view transvaluationism, a name which seems to me appropriate for several reasons. First, the term suggests that we should move beyond the idea that the successive statements in a sorites sequence can be assigned differing truth values in some logically coherent way that fully respects the nature of vagueness -a way that  fully eschews any arbitrarily precise semantic transitions. We should transcend this impossible goal by accepting that vagueness harbors logical incoherence. Second, just as Nietzsche held that one can overcome nihilism by embracing what he called the transvaluation of all values, my position affirms vagueness, rather than despairing in the face of the logical absurdity residing at its very core. This affirmation amounts to a transvaluation of truth values, as far as sorites sequences are concerned. Third, the term 'transvaluationism' has a nice ring to it, especially since one of the principal philosophical approaches to vagueness is called supervaluationism. I will call the first claim of transvaluationism, that vagueness is logically incoherent, the incoherence thesis . I will call the second claim, that vagueness is benign, beneficial, and essential, the legitimacy thesis . The legitimacy thesis, taken by itself, seems overwhelmingly plausible; anyone who denies it assumes a heavy burden of proof. But prima facie, it seems dubious that the legitimacy thesis can be maintained in conjunction with the incoherence thesis. For, there is reason to doubt whether there is any cogent way to embrace the incoherence thesis without thereby becoming mired in what Williamson (1994) calls global nihilism about vagueness -the view that vague terms are empty (i.e., they do not, and cannot, apply to anything). Global nihilism, Williamson argues, has such destructively negative consequences that it does not deserve to be taken seriously -for instance, the consequence that vastly many of our common sense beliefs are false, and the consequence that these beliefs are not even useful (since the constituent terms in 'Common sense beliefs are useful' are vague and hence this statement turns out, given the  incoherence thesis, to be false itself). In short, the idea that one can adopt the incoherence thesis and then somehow transcend nihilism might initially seem hopelessly optimistic; transvaluationism would then be an unattainable, chimerical, goal rather than an intelligible and conceptually stable position concerning vagueness. Given certain widely held philosophical views about how language and thought must map onto the world in order for statements and the beliefs they express to be true -views that fall appropriately under the label 'referential semantics' -transvaluationism probably is a chimerical goal..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Amie L. Thomasson (2010). The Controversy Over the Existence of Ordinary Objects. Philosophy Compass 5 (7):591-601.
Terry Horgan & Mark Timmons (2002). Conceptual Relativity and Metaphysical Realism. Noûs 36 (s1):74-96.
John Symons (2008). Intuition and Philosophical Methodology. Axiomathes 18 (1):67-89.
Matti Eklund (2002). Inconsistent Languages. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (2):251-275.
Elizabeth Barnes (2010). Arguments Against Metaphysical Indeterminacy and Vagueness. Philosophy Compass 5 (11):953-964.
Similar books and articles
Diana Raffman (2009). Demoting Higher-Order Vagueness. In Sebastiano Moruzzi & Richard Dietz (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Vaguenesss, its Nature and its Logic. Oxford University Press. 509--22.
David Enoch (2007). Epistemicism and Nihilism About Vagueness: What's the Difference? Philosophical Studies 133 (2):285 - 311.
Loretta Torrago (1999). Vagueness and Identity. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 1999:161-170.
Matjaž Potrč & Vojko Strahovnik (2013). Moral Dilemmas and Vagueness. Acta Analytica 28 (2):207-222.
Timothy Williamson (2002). Horgan on Vagueness. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):273-285.
Terry Horgan (2010). Transvaluationism About Vagueness: A Progress Report. Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):67-94.
Matjaž Potrč (2002). Transvaluationism, Common Sense and Indirect Correspondence. Acta Analytica 17 (1):101-119.
Terence Horgan (1998). The Transvaluationist Conception of Vagueness. The Monist 81 (2):313-330.
Added to index2009-05-10
Total downloads41 ( #59,008 of 1,696,633 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #95,357 of 1,696,633 )
How can I increase my downloads?