David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Rick Nouwen, Robert van Rooij, Uli Sauerland & Hans-Christian Schmitz (eds.), Vagueness in Communication. Springer. 169--188 (2011)
The purpose of this essay is to shed some light on a certain type of sentence, which I call a borderline contradiction. A borderline contradiction is a sentence of the form F a ∧ ¬F a, for some vague predicate F and some borderline case a of F , or a sentence equivalent to such a sentence. For example, if Jackie is a borderline case of ‘rich’, then ‘Jackie is rich and Jackie isn’t rich’ is a borderline contradiction. Many theories of vague language have entailments about borderline contradictions; correctly describing the behavior of borderline contradictions is one of the many tasks facing anyone offering a theory of vague language. Here, I first briefly review claims made by various theorists about these borderline contradictions, attempting to draw out some predictions about the behavior of ordinary speakers. Second, I present an experiment intended to gather relevant data about the behavior of ordinary speakers. Finally, I discuss the experimental results in light of several different theories of vagueness, to see what explanations are available. My conclusions are necessarily tentative; I do not attempt to use the present experiment to demonstrate that any single theory is incontrovertibly true. Rather, I try to sketch the auxiliary hypotheses that would need to be conjoined to several extant theories of vague language to predict the present result, and offer some considerations regarding the plausibility of these various hypotheses. In the end, I conclude that two of the theories I consider are better-positioned to account for the observed data than are the others. But the field of logically-informed research on people’s actual responses to vague predicates is young; surely as more data come in we will learn a great deal more about which (if any) of these theories best accounts for the behavior of ordinary speakers.
|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
Corine Besson & Anandi Hattiangadi (2014). The Open Future, Bivalence and Assertion. Philosophical Studies 167 (2):251-271.
Paul Egré (2011). Vagueness and Degrees of Truth. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):177-180.
Similar books and articles
Steven Gross (2009). Review of Stewart Shapiro, Vagueness in Context. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 118 (2):261-266.
Sam Alxatib & Francis Jeffry Pelletier (2011). The Psychology of Vagueness: Borderline Cases and Contradictions. Mind and Language 26 (3):287-326.
Achille C. Varzi (2003). Vagueness. In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
Stewart Shapiro (2008). Reasoning with Slippery Predicates. Studia Logica 90 (3):313 - 336.
Diana Raffman (2005). Borderline Cases and Bivalence. Philosophical Review 114 (1):1-31.
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.
Scott Soames (2011). What Vagueness and Inconsistency Tell Us About Interpretation. In Andrei Marmor & Scott Soames (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Language in the Law. Oxford University Press, Usa. 31--57.
R. Sorensen (2010). Borderline Hermaphrodites: Higher-Order Vagueness by Example. Mind 119 (474):393-408.
Added to index2010-01-02
Total downloads64 ( #29,647 of 1,692,491 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #39,472 of 1,692,491 )
How can I increase my downloads?