Vagueness, Language, and Ontology

[1] We all know that language is vague. The majority of our terms admit borderline cases. We are notoriously unable to resolve the precise number grains required for a portion of sand to fall under the predicate "heap". It might be supposed that blurry boundaries are, at bottom, an ontological phenomenon. Perhaps the indeterminacy of our predicates is inherited from the indeterminacy of the properties they denote. Perhaps objects can also by vague, rendering singularly terms, including proper names, uncomfortably imprecise. This thesis has been dismissed, challenged, and championed by various philosophers over the course of the century. Undoubtedly the most widely discussed objection to vague ontology comes in the form of a one-page argument devised by Gareth Evans (1978). Although other arguments against vague objects have been proposed,1 Evans' argument has occupied center stage, clarifying and provoking debate. Its impact reconfirms the value of Evans' philosophical legacy.
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