David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 154 (1):147 - 172 (2007)
Vagueness is epistemic, according to some. Vagueness is ontological, according to others. This article deploys what I take to be a compromise position. Predicates are coined in specific contexts for specific purposes, but these limited practices do not automatically fix the extensions of predicates over the domain of all objects. The linguistic community using the predicate has rarely considered, much less decided, all questions that might arise about the predicate’s extension. To this extent, the ontological view is correct. But a predicate that applies in some contexts can be reasonably extended to other contexts where it is initially vague. This process of development approximates the cognitive remedy for vagueness that the epistemic view prescribes. The process is piecemeal and inductive, akin to what von Wright described as the molding of concepts. Vagueness cannot be understood apart from the backdrop of classification, for vagueness is classification gone awry. Hence these pages explore the classification of particulars, both its clear successes and vague failures. How we classify unique particulars is the theme of Sections 2 and 3, which are primarily descriptive. Section 2 identifies a way of classifying particulars that pervades discourse of all sorts, and Section 3 illustrates its use in a field notorious for vagueness: ethics. Why a certain particular should (or should not) be classified in a certain way is a normative question, however, and it occupies Sections 4 and 5. Section 4 proposes a norm for strong arguments by analogy, and Section 5 illustrates how the norm might resolve vagueness in one kind of ethical dispute. This norm, which has a strong probabilistic component, is one way of affirming that probability is a guide to life.
|Keywords||Philosophy Philosophy Epistemology Logic Metaphysics Philosophy of Language|
|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
Ernest Adams (1998). A Primer of Probability Logic. Stanford: Csli Publications.
Rudolf Carnap (1959). Introduction to Semantics. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
Rudolf Carnap (1945). On Inductive Logic. Philosophy of Science 12 (2):72-97.
Rudolf Carnap (1952). The Continuum of Inductive Methods. [Chicago]University of Chicago Press.
Domenico Costantini (1983). Analogy by Similarity. Erkenntnis 20 (1):103 - 114.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Matti Eklund (2008). Deconstructing Ontological Vagueness. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (1):117-140.
Terence Horgan (1998). The Transvaluationist Conception of Vagueness. The Monist 81 (2):313-330.
Phil Serchuk, Ian Hargreaves & Richard Zach (2011). Vagueness, Logic and Use: Four Experimental Studies on Vagueness. Mind and Language 26 (5):540-573.
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.
Achille C. Varzi (2003). Higher-Order Vagueness and the Vagueness of ‘Vague’. Mind 112 (446):295–298.
Patrick Greenough (2005). Contextualism About Vagueness and Higher-Order Vagueness. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 79 (1):167–190.
Achille C. Varzi (2003). Vagueness. In Lynn Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Vol. 4. Nature Publishing Group. 459–464.
Nicholas J. J. Smith (2005). Vagueness as Closeness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):157 – 183.
Trenton Merricks (2001). Varieties of Vagueness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):145-157.
Timothy A. O. Endicott (2011). The Value of Vagueness. In Andrei Marmor & Scott Soames (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Language in the Law. Oxford University Press, Usa.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads22 ( #90,783 of 1,681,636 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #183,751 of 1,681,636 )
How can I increase my downloads?