Vagueness, ignorance, and margins for error

Acta Analytica 17 (1):19-45 (2002)
Abstract
We argue that the epistemic theory of vagueness cannot adequately justify its key tenet-that vague predicates have precisely bounded extensions, of which we are necessarily ignorant. Nor can the theory adequately account for our ignorance of the truth values of borderline cases. Furthermore, we argue that Williamson’s promising attempt to explicate our understanding of vague language on the model of a certain sort of “inexact knowledge” is at best incomplete, since certain forms of vagueness do not fit Williamson’s model, and in fact fit an alternative model. Finally, we point out that a certain kind of irremediable inexactitude postulated by physics need not be-and is not commonly-interpreted as epistemic. Thus, there are aspects of contemporary science that do not accord well with the epistemicist outlook.
Keywords Vagueness  Epistemicism  Bivalence  Indeterminism  Predication  Williamson  T
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