The Lewis-Sider argument from vagueness is one of the most powerful objections against restricted composition. Many have resisted the argument by rejecting its key premise, namely that existence is not vague. In this paper, I argue that this strategy is ineffective as a response to vagueness-based objections against restricted composition. To that end, I formulate a new argument against restricted composition: the argument from determinate vagueness. Unlike the Lewis-Sider argument, my argument doesn’t require accepting that existence is not vague, but (...) only that it is not vague in a specific way, which, I argue, is entailed by restricted composition. I show that the rejection of this species of vague existence follows from assumptions even friends of vague existence should be happy to accept. (shrink)
Is a human more conscious than an octopus? In the science of consciousness, it’s oftentimes assumed that some creatures (or mental states) are more conscious than others. But in recent years, a number of philosophers have argued that the notion of degrees of consciousness is conceptually confused. This paper (1) argues that the most prominent objections to degrees of consciousness are unsustainable, (2) examines the semantics of ‘more conscious than’ expressions, (3) develops an analysis of what it is for a (...) degreed property to count as degrees of consciousness, and (4) applies the analysis to various theories of consciousness. I argue that whether consciousness comes in degrees ultimately depends on which theory of consciousness turns out to be correct. But I also argue that most theories of consciousness entail that consciousness comes in degrees. (shrink)
Our ordinary assertions are often imprecise, insofar as the way we represent things as being only approximates how things are in the actual world. The phenomenon of assertoric imprecision raises a challenge to standard accounts of both the norm of assertion and the connection between semantics and the objects of assertion. After clarifying these problems in detail, I develop a framework for resolving them. Specifically, I argue that the phenomenon of assertoric imprecision motivates a rejection of the widely held belief (...) that a semantic theory for a language associates a single semantic value with each of the simple and complex expressions of that language, relative to the contexts in which they occur. Instead, I propose that we adopt a framework I call semantic pluralism. (shrink)
Academic discussions of the count/mass distinction in Chinese feature three general problems, upon which this essay critically reflects: 1) Most studies focus either on modern or on classical Chinese thus representing parallel discussions that never intersect; 2) studies on count/mass grammar are often detached from reflections on count/mass semantics, which results in serious theoretical and terminological flaws; 3) approaches to Chinese often crucially depend on observations of English grammar and semantics, as, e.g., many/much vs. few/little patterns, the use of plural (...) inflections, etc., which is seldom justified. The article investigates the relevant discourse on the count/mass issue in classical and modern Chinese and concludes with exploring two distinct areas related to countability: the semantics of singular in contexts in which objects are introduced as referential-indefinite and the semantics of number and countability as revealed in diangu. (shrink)
In this chapter, Nonsense is approached as a category that reveals a close relation both to order and disorder, rationality and illogicality, conventionality and arbitrariness, reality and dream. Among its various illustrations, quite a prominent role is assigned to the Duchess’ sentence, which, in spite of being universally acknowledged as one of the best pieces of Nonsense, is rarely discussed in detail in philosophical and literary investigations: ‘Be what you would seem to be’ - or, if you’d like it put (...) more simply – ‘Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.’. (shrink)
Whatever theoretical perspective one adopts for interpreting Alice (mathematics, physics, psychoanalysis, etc.), reading it unfailingly turns into a series of unexpected discoveries. Yet probably no other readings prove to be as adventurous as the philosophical ones. Philosophers are inspired by the book to address a vast variety of issues, from the problem of internal meanings, i.e. the relation of saying to meaning, up to the existence of God and the creation of the world. In this chapter, I have tried to (...) trace some of the most impressive philosophical adventures in Wonderland that might give birth to still more stirring new ideas and discoveries in the future. (shrink)
Communication facilitates coordination, but coordination might fail if there's too much uncertainty. I discuss a scenario in which vagueness-driven uncertainty undermines the possibility of publicly sharing a belief. I then show that asserting an epistemic modal sentence, 'Might p', can reveal the speaker's uncertainty, and that this may improve the chances of coordination despite the lack of a common epistemic ground. This provides a game-theoretic rationale for epistemic modality. The account draws on a standard relational semantics for epistemic modality, Stalnaker's (...) theory of assertion as informative update, and a Bayesian framework for reasoning under uncertainty. (shrink)
Reasoning by default is a relevant aspect of everyday life that has traditionally attracted the attention of many fields of research, from psychology to the philosophy of logic, from economics to artificial intelligence. Also in the field of law, default reasoning is widely used by lawyers, judges and other legal decision-makers. In this paper, a philosopher of language (Carlo Penco) and a philosopher of law (Damiano Canale) attempt to explore some uses of default reasoning that are scarcely considered by legal (...) theory. In particular, the dialogue dwells on the notion of literal meaning, witness testimony, and the problem of disagreement among experts in legal proceedings. The paper is intended as a sort of brain storming useful to identify new lines of research straddling philosophy of law, cognitive psychology and philosophy of language. (shrink)
Who should be diagnosed with intellectual disability and who should not? For borderline cases, the answer to this question may be as difficult to decide on as determining the borderline between being bald or not. While going bald may be upsetting to some, it is also an inevitable and relatively undramatic course of nature. In contrast, getting a diagnosis of intellectual disability is likely to have more far-reaching consequences. This makes the question of where the cutoff point for intellectual disability (...) lies more imperative. Philosophy of science may help psychologists to understand the nature of this dilemma in a more profound manner. This article builds on the sorites paradox to explore the vagueness that surrounds the concept of intellectual disability and the consequences of this vagueness for the diagnostic process. While epistemicists argue that vagueness is a consequence of our limited knowledge of the world that we live in, semantic theorists claim that there is nothing that we do not know, but that our language allows for indecisiveness. What these different lines of understanding mean for psychologists who are diagnosing intellectual disability, is described in this article. Furthermore, the article discusses practical implications of these philosophical underpinnings. (shrink)
English is spoken all around the world as it is chosen as the second language to speak within most of the countries. However, from the ancient history of the British to come into this South Asian region, the entrance of English as a speaking language happened. Though, after some centuries, the British went out of the mainland of India, it remains the second-largest spoken language there. Here comes another fact; many words in Standard English changed its form. So, this made (...) the dialects as much as changed that many ones refer to English in India as Indian English. In this present time, though, there are hundreds of languages chosen to speak Indian English that differ in many ways. The characters playing English roles also have a dialect changing of English in somewhat ways. Though the grammars and principal terms of English are still the same for Indian English, deviations came across the spoken language in many attributes. This paper identifies the entrance of English in India, the deviation of dialect change in Indian English with examples of characters still making way to English (Both British and Hollywood) movies with the dialects of Indian English many ways. The paper studies those ways and deviations of words in English in India that they use and call it Indian English. (shrink)
Why is there a long-standing debate about paraphrase in poetry? Everyone agrees that paraphrase can be useful; everyone agrees that paraphrase is no substitute for the poem itself. What is there to disagree about? Perhaps this: whether paraphrase can specify everything that counts as a contribution to the meaning of a poem. There are, we say, two ways to take the question; on one way of taking it, the answer is that paraphrase cannot. Does this entail that there is meaning (...) mysteriously locked in a poem, meaning that cannot be represented in any way other than via the poem itself? If that were so it would have profound implications for poetry’s capacity to convey insight. We suggest reasons for thinking that the entailment does not hold. Throughout, we connect the traditional debate over paraphrase, which has largely been conducted within the fields of philosophy and literary theory, with recent empirically oriented thinking about the communicability of meaning, represented by work in pragmatics. We end with a suggestion about what is to count as belonging to meaning, and what as merely among the things that determine meaning. (shrink)
Why should we refrain from doing things that, taken collectively, are environmentally destructive, if our individual acts seem almost certain to make no difference? According to the expected consequences approach, we should refrain from doing these things because our individual acts have small risks of causing great harm, which outweigh the expected benefits of performing them. Several authors have argued convincingly that this provides a plausible account of our moral reasons to do things like vote for policies that will reduce (...) our countries’ greenhouse gas emissions, adopt plant-based diets, and otherwise reduce our individual emissions. But this approach has recently been challenged by authors like Bernward Gesang and Julia Nefsky. Gesang contends that it may be genuinely impossible for our individual emissions to make a morally relevant difference. Nefsky argues more generally that the expected consequences approach cannot adequately explain our reasons not to do things if there is no precise fact of the matter about whether their outcomes are harmful. -/- In the following chapter, author Howard Nye defends the expected consequences approach against these objections. Nye contends that Gesang has shown at most that our emissions could have metaphysically indeterministic effects that lack precise objective chances. He argues, moreover, that the expected consequences approach can draw upon existing extensions to cases of indeterminism and imprecise probabilities to deliver the result that we have the same moral reasons to reduce our emissions in Gesang’s scenario as in deterministic scenarios. Nye also shows how the expected consequences approach can draw upon these extensions to handle Nefsky’s concern about the absence of precise facts concerning whether the outcomes of certain acts are harmful. The author concludes that the expected consequences approach provides a fully adequate account of our moral reasons to take both political and personal action to reduce our ecological footprints. (shrink)
Ralf Stoecker hat argumentiert, dass allein Menschen im strengen Sinne handeln könnten, weil sie allein fähig seien, etwas aus Gründen zu tun und über diese Gründe Rechenschaft abzulegen. In einem weniger strengen Sinn könnten auch Tiere handeln. Ich werde in diesem Beitrag zunächst Stoeckers Begründung seiner zweigeteilten These rekapitulieren (1) und dann zwei Rückfragen dazu stellen: (a) Warum soll es gerade die Praxis des logon didonai sein, die Verhalten zu Handlungen im engen Sinne macht? (b) Warum soll es genau zwei (...) Sinne von ,handeln' geben, einen engen und einen weiten? Handlungsfähigkeit könnte ja auch eine Sache des Grades sein (2). Schon Aristoteles hat einen engen Handlungsbegriff für Menschen reserviert und einen weiteren auf andere Tiere angewandt. Stoecker geht auf Aristoteles nicht ein, doch gibt es interessante Parallelen zwischen beider Ausführungen dazu, welche Fähigkeiten allein Menschen besitzen und warum (3). Im Rest des Beitrags weite ich den Blick und stelle zunächst eigene Überlegungen dazu an, welches die Vorzüge eines gradualistischen Verständnisses von Fähigkeiten sind und welche Rolle die Vagheit fähigkeitszuschreibender Ausdrücke spielt (4). Dann skizziere ich die These, dass die je artspeziﬁschen Fähigkeitsproﬁle von Menschen und anderen Tieren durch „Realisierungslücken“ voneinander getrennt sind (5). Der Beitrag mündet in Metaüberlegungen zum Streit über die „anthropologische Differenz“: Die zwischen „Assimilationisten“ und „Differentialisten“ umstrittene Frage, ob sich Menschen und andere Tiere in ihren mentalen Fähigkeiten qualitativ oder bloß quantitativ unterscheiden, ist schlecht deﬁniert und unfruchtbar. Sie sollte zugunsten gehaltvollerer Fragen zu den Akten gelegt werden (6). (shrink)
Fake news is a topic that we all know well, and that continues to play a prominent role in the social harms besieging the globe today. From the recent storming of the Capitol Hill in the United States to the siege of Red fort over Farm-laws in India, online disinformation via social media platforms was the main driving force catapulting the protestors far and wide. In the backdrop of such social harms, this Research Article examines the epistemic, legal and regulatory (...) discourse surrounding the disinformation bubble in India and asks for the deployment of ‘Lessig’s Decentred Regulatory Model’ — the potential Framework solution to regulate social media platforms in order to curb the menace of ‘fake news’. (shrink)
I. EPISTEMOLOGICAL SUGGESTIONS From an epistemological view, classifying a statement as 'vague' means to judge the statement in question to be a mixture from partial knowledge and partial ignorance. Accordingly it seems desirable to describe the boundary between knowledge and ignorance hidden in the vague statement. -/- Ludwig discusses vagueness in physics, especially vagueness in measuring statements. The example he uses is 'measurement of Euclidean distance', i.e. the meaning of statements which are often written as "d(x,y) = α ± ε", (...) where vagueness is expressed by "± ε" indicating the so-called "error of measurement". Ludwig maintains that physicists have come to refrain from supposing that physical objects have exact properties which cannot be measured exactly (but only within the indicated 'error of measurement'). … But what is the alternative? … . (shrink)
Gender is both indeterminate and multifaceted: many individuals do not fit neatly into accepted gender categories, and a vast number of characteristics are relevant to determining a person's gender. This article demonstrates how these two features, taken together, enable gender to be modeled as a multidimensional sorites paradox. After discussing the diverse terminology used to describe gender, I extend Helen Daly's research into sex classifications in the Olympics and show how varying testosterone levels can be represented using a sorites argument. (...) The most appropriate way of addressing the paradox that results, I propose, is to employ fuzzy logic. I then move beyond physiological characteristics and consider how gender portrayals in reality television shows align with Judith Butler's notion of performativity, thereby revealing gender to be composed of numerous criteria. Following this, I explore how various elements of gender can each be modeled as individual sorites paradoxes such that the overall concept forms a multidimensional paradox. Resolving this dilemma through fuzzy logic provides a novel framework for interpreting gender membership. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have offered compelling reasons to think that demonstratives are best represented as variables, sensitive not to the context of utterance, but to a variable assignment. Variablists typically explain familiar intuitions about demonstratives—intuitions that suggest that what is said by way of a demonstrative sentence varies systematically over contexts—by claiming that contexts initialize a particular assignment of values to variables. I argue that we do not need to link context and the assignment parameter in this way, and that we (...) would do better not to. (shrink)
We expect the laws of nature that describe the universe to be exact, but what if that isn't true? In this popular science article, I discuss the possibility that some candidate fundamental laws of nature, such as the Past Hypothesis, may be vague. This possibility is in conflict with the idea that the fundamental laws of nature can always and faithfully be described by classical mathematics. -/- [Bibliographic note: this article is featured on the magazine website under a different title (...) as "The fuzzy law that could break the idea of a mathematical universe" and on the magazine cover as "The Flaw at the Heart of Reality: Why precise mathematical laws can never fully explain the universe." It is a popular version of the article "Nomic Vagueness" that can be found on arXiv: 2006.05298.]. (shrink)
There is a puzzle about divine justice stemming from the fact that God seems required to judge on the basis of criteria that are vague. Justice is proportional, however, it seems God violates proportionality by sending those on the borderline of heaven to an eternity in hell. This is Ted Sider’s problem of Hell and Vagueness. On the face of things, this poses a challenge only to a narrow class of classical Christians, those that hold a retributive theory of divine (...) punishment. We show that this puzzle can be extended to the picture of divine judgement and the afterlife found in Mormon theology. This is significant because at first glance, the Mormon picture of the afterlife looks like it fails to co-operate with Sider’s puzzle. In Mormon theology, there are not two afterlife states, but three: a low, a middle, and a high kingdom. There is no afterlife state quite like Hell, and the states that function similarly to Hell aren’t places of eternal suffering. We argue that appearances are misleading. While it may be true that no place in the Mormon afterlife is bad in the sense that its inhabitants suffer eternal bodily harm, it is true that many of the places in the Mormon afterlife are bad in the sense that their inhabitants lack access to significant goods. This allows Sider’s puzzle to re-engage as a puzzle about distributive Justice. After setting out this alternative version of the puzzle, we argue that Mormon theology has sufficient resources to reject proportionality as a constraint on divine judgment by adopting a nuanced version of universalism called escapism. (shrink)
If the Past Hypothesis underlies the arrows of time, what is the status of the Past Hypothesis? In this paper, I examine the role of the Past Hypothesis in the Boltzmannian account and defend the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law of nature. Such a view is known to be compatible with Humeanism about laws, but as I argue it is also supported by a minimal non-Humean "governing'' view. Some worries arise from the non-dynamical and time-dependent (...) character of the Past Hypothesis as a boundary condition, the intrinsic vagueness in its specification, and the nature of the initial probability distribution. I show that these worries do not have much force, and in any case they become less relevant in a new quantum framework for analyzing time's arrows---the Wentaculus. Hence, the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law should be more widely accepted than it is now. (shrink)
The book is about the problem of vagueness. It begins by discussing some of the existing views on vagueness and then explains why they have not been thought to be satisfactory. It then outlines a new account of vagueness, based on the general idea that vagueness is a global rather than a local phenomenon. In other words, the vagueness of an expression or object is not an intrinsic feature of the object or an expression but a matter of how it (...) relates to other objects and expression. The development of this idea leads to a new semantics and logic for vagueness. The semantics and logic are then applied to a number of issues, including the sorites paradox, the transparency or luminosity of mental states, and personal identity. It is shown that the view allows one to hew to a much more intuitive position on these various issues. (shrink)
What is the content of a sentence in context? A proposition, says the standard propositional view accepted in much of semantics. A set of propositions, says the hitherto little-explored view of Semantic Pluralism. The aim of this book is to motivate, develop and defend Semantic Pluralism. To achieve this aim, the book puts forward two arguments against Contextualism, the most popular propositional theory. It spells out two versions of Semantic Pluralism: Flexible Pluralism, which takes many expressions to be context-sensitive, and (...) Strong Pluralism, which denies that context-sensitivity is widespread. And it shows how Pluralists can reply to several objections that have been lodged against non-propositional semantic theories. (shrink)
Social psychologists often describe “implicit” racial biases as entirely unconscious, and as mere associations between groups and traits, which lack intentional content, e.g., we associate “black” and “athletic” in much the same way we associate “salt” and “pepper.” However, recent empirical evidence consistently suggests that individuals are aware of their implicit biases, albeit in partial, inarticulate, or even distorted ways. Moreover, evidence suggests that implicit biases are not “dumb” semantic associations, but instead reflect our skillful, norm-sensitive, and embodied engagement with (...) social reality. This essay draws on phenomenological and hermeneutic methods and concepts to better understand what social-psychological research has begun to reveal about the conscious access individuals have to their own racial attitudes, as well as the intentional contents of the attitudes themselves. -/- First, I argue that implicit racial biases form part of the “background” of social experience. That is, while they exert a pervasive influence on our perceptions, judgments, and actions, they are frequently felt but not noticed, or noticed but misinterpreted. Second, I argue that our unreflective racial attitudes are neither mere associations nor fully articulated, propositionally structured beliefs or emotions. Their intentional contents are fundamentally indeterminate. For example, when a white person experiences a “gut feeling” of discomfort during an interaction with a black person, there is a question about the meaning or nature of that discomfort. Is it a fear of black people? Is it anxiety about appearing racist? There is, I argue, no general, determinate answer to such questions. The contents of our unreflective racial attitudes are fundamentally vague and open-ended, although I explain how they nevertheless take on particular shapes and implications—that is, their content can become determinate—depending on context, social meaning, and structural power relations. (If, for example, a perceived authority figure, such as a politician, parent, or scientist, encourages you to believe that your uncomfortable gut feeling is a justified fear of other social groups, then that is what your gut feeling is likely to become.). (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of what should determine whether students’ answers to closed questions are marked as correct or incorrect in the context of formal religious education, and when their answers to open ended questions should be given more or less credit. Drawing on insights from Craig Bourne, Emily Caddick Bourne and Clare Jarmy, I argue that a combination of judged truth, and a range of well-argued cases about what ought to be believed given certain premises should constrain these (...) assessment practices. Furthermore, I argue that if we cannot find any consistent, nonarbitrary account of how judgements of correctness and merit are in fact being made in the context of formal religious education, then this tells more against current practice’s inconsistency and arbitrariness than against these constraints on how judgements of correctness and merit should be made. (shrink)
In contemporary philosophy of religion, the two most standard approaches to predicates of God are analogy and univocation. While analogy lacks precision and is best used in liturgical and sacred texts, univocal predicates are problematic because they seem to lead to ontological monism of sameness between God and creatures, which cannot be allowed within metaphysics of Absolute Being. In this article, I examine and contrast G. Frege’s approach to univocal predications and L. Wittgenstein’s notion of language-games, which allows us to (...) move away from univocation as a case of strong identity toward univocation as the extra-linguistic context of human activities. Indeed, that human context can be shared with ‘Goodness,’ ‘Wisdom,’ ‘Simplicity,’ ‘Love’ and many other predicates we attribute to God. I argue that our language of univocal predicates must reflect not the abstract concepts but that same context of divine and human activities in which names of God achieve univocal context. Key words: analogy, univocal predicates, G. Frege, L. Wittgenstein, contextual principle, language-games . (shrink)
Decision theorists and philosophers of language have a lot to learn from one another. In the first of this two-part series, Anna Mahtani looks at the use and interpretation of credences and preferences.
In this paper I present a version of meaning holism proposed by Henry Jackman (1999a, 1999b, 2005 and 2015) entitled "moderate holism". I will argue that this moderate version of holism, in addition to responding to much of the criticism attributed to traditional semantic holism (such as translation, disagreement, change of mind and communication), is also extremely useful to explain the occurrence of several, such as vagueness and polysemy.
Inexact limits. On the heap-paradox, Darwinism and recursive grammar. The heap-paradox can be reinforced by a combination with the basic idea of Achilles. The logical pattern of the reinforced heap-paradox will be analysed in a new manner by distinguishing between limited and unlimited transitivity. This analysis makes explicit the constructive character of the paradox. Finally it is shown that the logical pattern of the heap-paradox is applied in popular presentations of Darwinism, in the debate about abortion and in the foundation (...) of recursive theories of grammar. (shrink)
The central thesis of the book is that the proposition a vague sentence expresses in a borderline case is true or false, and we cannot know which. We are ignorant of its truth-value. This is the epistemic view of vagueness. It allows us to preserve both classical logic and disquotational principles about truth and falsity, with all their advantages: simplicity, clarity, power, past success, integration with well-confirmed theories in other domains. Consequently, the epistemic view has a head start over its (...) rivals. The gap is widened by each rival theory's specific disadvantages, many of them related to higher-order vagueness. The epistemic view is then strengthened by an explanation of our ignorance in borderline cases. The explanation predicts higher order vagueness. (shrink)
This essay explores the validity of Gregory Boyd’s open theistic account of the nature of the future. In particular, it is an investigation into whether Boyd’s logical square of opposition for future contingents provides a model of reality for free will theists that can preserve both bivalence and a classical conception of omniscience. In what follows, I argue that it can.
This paper establishes two facts. The first is that a recently presented problem for supervaluationism applies equally to the branching-time cousin of the theory. The second fact is that a new version of branching-time supervaluationism avoids this and related problems.
Intuitively there are many different things that non-derivatively contribute to well-being: pleasure, desire satisfaction, knowledge, friendship, love, rationality, freedom, moral virtue, and appreciation of true beauty. According to pluralism, at least two different types of things non-derivatively contribute to well-being. Lopsided lives score very low in terms of some types of things that putatively non-derivatively contribute to well-being, but very high in terms of other such types of things. I argue that pluralists essentially face a trilemma about lopsided lives: they (...) must either make implausible claims about how they compare in terms of overall well-being with more balanced lives, allow overall well-being to be implausibly hypersensitive to very slight nonevaluative differences, or else adopt implausible seeming limits on what things lives can contain or how much they can contribute to overall well-being. Such problems about lopsided lives thus push us away from pluralism and toward simpler theories of well-being, toward hedonism in particular. (This piece is the subject of Eden Lin’s paper “Well-Being and Hedonic Indispensability”.). (shrink)
This chapter relates the problem of demarcating the pathological from the non-pathological in psychiatry to the general problem of defining ‘disease’ in the philosophy of medicine. Section 2 revisits three prominent debates in medical nosology: naturalism versus normativism, the three dimensions of illness, sickness, and disease, and the demarcation problem. Sections 3–5 reformulate the demarcation problem in terms of semantic vagueness. ‘Disease’ exhibits vagueness of degree by drawing no sharp line in a continuum and is combinatorially vague because there are (...) several criteria for the term’s use that might fall apart. Combinatorial vagueness explains why the other two debates appear hopeless: Should we construe ‘disease’ in a naturalistic or in a normative way? Neither answer is satisfactory. How should we balance the three dimensions of pathology? We do not have to, because illness, sickness and disease (narrowly conceived) are non-competing criteria for the application of the cluster term ‘disease’. (shrink)
That any filled location of spacetime contains a persisting thing has been defended based on the ‘argument from vagueness.’ It is often assumed that since the epistemicist account of vagueness blocks the argument from vagueness it facilitates a conservative ontology without gerrymandered objects. It doesn't. The epistemic vagueness of ordinary object predicates such as ‘bicycle’ requires that objects that can be described as almost‐but‐not‐quite‐bicycle exist even though they fall outside the predicate's sharp extension. Since the predicates that begin with ‘almost’ (...) are vague as well, epistemicism's ontological backdrop is far from the conservative picture it is thought to enable. (shrink)
This essay is concerned with six linguistic moves that we commonly make, each of which is considered in turn. These are: stating rules of representation; representing things categorically; mentioning expressions; saying truly or falsely how things are; saying vaguely how things are; and stating rules of rules of representation. A common-sense view is defended of what is involved in our doing each of these six things against a much more sceptical view emanating from the idea that linguistic behavior is fundamentally (...) messy. Both the fifth move and the sixth move involve vague concepts, and much of the essay is concerned with developing an approach to various problems and puzzles that attach to such concepts, most notably the sorites paradoxes. (shrink)
These essays are fundamentally a credo and partly a manifesto. The author identifies problems in the college teaching of the Humanities, and after description, analysis, and illustration, he makes brief recommendations. He uses "Humanities" to englobe Philosophy and Religion, and largely neglects the fine and performing arts. Throughout, his emphasis is on reading skills. The sections are numbered through six chapters and a Prologue, implying one unfolding argument, which is largely the case.
In this paper I will investigate Kristeva’s conception of dance in regard to the trope of the borderline. I will begin with her explicit treatments of dance, the earliest of which occurs in Revolution in Poetic Language, in terms of (a) her analogy between poetry and dance as practices erupting on the border of chora and society, (b) her presentation of dance as a phenomenon bordering art and religion in rituals, and (c) her brief remarks on dance gesturality. I will (...) then follow this latter movement to the 1969 essay “Gesturality,” to critically examine where Kristeva situates the powers and limits of gesture (and thereby dance) in relation to language. Next, I will move to the later text, The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt, where the image of dance figures prominently in what I will term Kristeva’s joyful re-choreographing of Freud’s text Totem and Taboo. I will also see how her treatment of dance links more directly to Kristeva’s feminist concerns, insofar as she understands the process of choreography as a kind of maternal function neglected in most psychoanalytic thought. (shrink)
'Epistemic' accounts of vagueness argue that so called 'borderline' cases of a term actually always do (or don't) fall within that term's extension. What makes the case borderline is that this fact may be unknowable. Such epistemic theories have traditionally been taken to be unable to accommodate the intuitive connection between meaning and use. However, it will be argued here that if one endorses a type of 'Temporal Externalism' about meaning (according to which future linguistic developments can help determine the (...) semantic values of our current utterances), then one can both endorse epistemic accounts of vagueness and hold on to the traditional tie between meaning and use. (shrink)
A Note on the Linguistic Determinacy in the Legal Context This paper discusses linguistic vagueness in the context of a semantically restricted domain of legal language. It comments on selected aspects of vagueness found in contemporary English normative legal texts and on terminological problems related to vagueness and indeterminacy both in the legal domain and language in general. The discussion is illustrated with selected corpus examples of vagueness in English legal language and attempts to show problems of the relation between (...) vagueness and ambiguity in the context of legal institutionalised systems.The discussion also evokes theoretical issues which pertain to the relation between legal texts and their contexts, the problem of how linguistic forms acquire their contextual meaning and how linguistic expressions are disambiguated. These issues are further related to the post-Gricean theory of relevance, its inferential model of communication, and the interplay between the linguistic code and inferential processes in communication. (shrink)
When Truth Gives Out discusses some of the relations between performative and expressive aspects of language and those aspects of language that determine truth conditions. Among the topics it takes up are slurring speech, the ‘Frege-Geach’ objection to expressivism, vagueness, and relativism. It develops an alternative to standard truth conditional semantics, one based on the notion of a commitment.