Vagueness and Indirect Discourse

Noûs 34 (s1):258 - 270 (2000)
Abstract
This paper offers a rejoinder to an argument by Schiffer against semantic accounts of vagueness (typically relying on supervaluationist techniques) based on indirect discourse. The argument, as far as I know original with Schiffer, occurs in “Two Issues of Vagueness” (Schiffer 1998). It is not addressed at supervaluationism as such, but at the philosophical account of vagueness which typically relies on it. Supervaluationism is not by itself a theory, but a logical technique with several applications. In one such application, supervaluationism serves to alleviate a tension between, on the one hand, the rejection of bivalence for some utterances which characterizes what I take to be the correct view on vagueness (vagueness as semantic indecision – ‘VSI’ henceforth –, to put it in the terms of a well-known defender of the view, David Lewis), and, on the other, well-established facts about the semantics of logical expressions. I will address Schiffer’s argument by putting forward some considerations on the concept of de re thoughts which I take to undermine it. These considerations are not ad hoc, but highly germane to VSI; or so I will try to show.
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Vann McGee & Brian McLaughlin (1995). Distinctions Without a Difference. Southern Journal of Philosophy 33 (S1):203-251.

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