Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):67-94 (2010)

Terry Horgan
University of Arizona
The philosophical account of vagueness I call "transvaluationism" makes three fundamental claims. First, vagueness is logically incoherent in a certain way: it essentially involves mutually unsatisfiable requirements that govern vague language, vague thought-content, and putative vague objects and properties. Second, vagueness in language and thought (i.e., semantic vagueness) is a genuine phenomenon despite possessing this form of incoherence—and is viable, legitimate, and indeed indispensable. Third, vagueness as a feature of objects, properties, or relations (i.e., ontological vagueness) is impossible, because of the mutually unsatisfiable conditions that such putative items would have to meet. In this paper I set forth the core claims of transvaluationism in a way that acknowledges and explicitly addresses a challenging critique by Timothy Williamson of my prior attempts to articulate and defend this approach to vagueness. I sketch my favored approach to truth and ontological commitment, and I explain how it accommodates the impossibility of ontological vagueness. I argue that any approach to the logic and semantics of vagueness that both (i) eschews epistemicism and (ii) thoroughly avoids positing any arbitrary sharp boundaries (either first-order or higher-order) will have to be not an alternative to transvaluationism but an implementation of it. I sketch my reasons for repudiating epistemicism. I briefly describe my current thinking about how to accommodate intentional mental properties with vague content within an ontology that eschews ontological vagueness. And I revisit the idea, which played a key role in my earlier articulations of transvaluationism, that moral conflicts provide an illuminating model for understanding vagueness.
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DOI 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2010.01006.x
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References found in this work BETA

Material Beings.Peter Van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.
From Stimulus to Science.W. V. Quine - 1997 - Harvard University Press.
The Problem of the Many.Peter Unger - 1980 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):411-468.

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Citations of this work BETA

Troubles for Bayesian Formal Epistemology.Terry Horgan - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (2):233-255.
Imprecise Probability and Higher Order Vagueness.Susanna Rinard - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (2):257-273.
Moral Dilemmas and Vagueness.Matjaž Potrč & Vojko Strahovnik - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (2):207-222.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

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Horgan on Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 2002 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):273-285.
Demoting Higher-Order Vagueness.Diana Raffman - 2009 - In Sebastiano Moruzzi & Richard Dietz (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Vaguenesss, its Nature and its Logic. Oxford University Press. pp. 509--22.
Vagueness as Closeness.Nicholas J. J. Smith - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):157 – 183.


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