Vagueness Intuitions and the Mobility of Cognitive Sortals

Minds and Machines 22 (3):213-234 (2012)

Bert Baumgaertner
University of Idaho
One feature of vague predicates is that, as far as appearances go, they lack sharp application boundaries. I argue that we would not be able to locate boundaries even if vague predicates had sharp boundaries. I do so by developing an idealized cognitive model of a categorization faculty which has mobile and dynamic sortals (`classes', `concepts' or `categories') and formally prove that the degree of precision with which boundaries of such sortals can be located is inversely constrained by their flexibility. Given the literature, it is plausible that we are appropriately like the model. Hence, an inability to locate sharp boundaries is not necessarily because there are none; boundaries could be sharp and it is plausible that we would nevertheless be unable to locate them.
Keywords Vagueness  Sortals  Sorites  Vagueness Intuitions  Cognitive Sortals  Sorites Paradox  Categorization  Concept Boundary
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DOI 10.1007/s11023-012-9273-3
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Epistemology and Cognition.Alvin I. Goldman - 1986 - Harvard University Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Categories and Concepts.Edward E. Smith & L. Douglas - 1981 - Harvard University Press.

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