Just what is vagueness?

Ratio 25 (1):19-33 (2012)
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Abstract

We argue that standard definitions of ‘vagueness’ prejudice the question of how best to deal with the phenomenon of vagueness. In particular, the usual understanding of ‘vagueness’ in terms of borderline cases, where the latter are thought of as truth-value gaps, begs the question against the subvaluational approach. According to this latter approach, borderline cases are inconsistent (i.e., glutty not gappy). We suggest that a definition of ‘vagueness’ should be general enough to accommodate any genuine contender in the debate over how to best deal with the sorites paradox. Moreover, a definition of ‘vagueness’ must be able to accommodate the variety of forms sorites arguments can take. These include numerical, total-ordered sorites arguments, discrete versions, continuous versions, as well as others without any obvious metric structure at all. After considering the shortcomings of various definitions of ‘vagueness’, we propose a very general non-question-begging definition.

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Author Profiles

Otávio Bueno
University of Miami
Mark Colyvan
University of Sydney

Citations of this work

Are Spectrum Arguments Defused by Vagueness?Teruji Thomas - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (4):743-757.
Vague Comparisons.Cristian Constantinescu - 2016 - Ratio 29 (4):357-377.
Topics in Population Ethics.Teruji Thomas - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
Sorites paradox.Dominic Hyde - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - New York: Routledge.
Blindspots.Roy A. Sorensen - 1988 - New York: Oxford University Press.
An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is.Graham Priest - 2008 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Theories of Vagueness.Rosanna Keefe - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Vagueness and Degrees of Truth.Nicholas J. J. Smith - 2008 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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