David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
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 Epistemology Logic Metaphysics Philosophy of Language Vagueness|
|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
George Lakoff (1987). Women, Fire and Dangerous Thing: What Catergories Reveal About the Mind. University of Chicago Press.
Bernard Arthur Owen Williams (1985). Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Harvard University Press.
Timothy Williamson (1994). Vagueness. Routledge.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1922/1999). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Dover Publications.
Roy A. Sorensen (1988). Blindspots. Oxford University Press.
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.
Trenton Merricks (2001). Varieties of Vagueness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):145-157.
Nicholas J. J. Smith (2005). Vagueness as Closeness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):157 – 183.
Achille C. Varzi (2003). Vagueness. In Lynn Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Vol. 4. Nature Publishing Group 459–464.
Patrick Greenough (2005). Contextualism About Vagueness and Higher-Order Vagueness. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 79 (1):167–190.
Achille C. Varzi (2003). Higher-Order Vagueness and the Vagueness of ‘Vague’. Mind 112 (446):295–298.
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.
Phil Serchuk, Ian Hargreaves & Richard Zach (2011). Vagueness, Logic and Use: Four Experimental Studies on Vagueness. Mind and Language 26 (5):540-573.
Terence Horgan (1998). The Transvaluationist Conception of Vagueness. The Monist 81 (2):313-330.
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 downloads27 ( #140,898 of 1,793,012 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #344,508 of 1,793,012 )
How can I increase my downloads?