‘Vague’ at Higher Orders

Mind 126 (504):1189-1216 (2017)

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Abstract
Sorensen has argued that one can exploit the vagueness of an ordinary predicate like ‘small’ to induce a sort of vagueness in ‘vague’, by constructing a series of predicates of the form ‘n-small’, where x is n- small if and only if x is small or x n. The resulting ‘Sorensen’ed’ predicates present a Sorites case for ‘vague’ ; hence the vagueness of ‘vague’. Hyde argues that this demonstrates that all vague predicates are higher-order vague. Others doubt whether Sorensen’s series really delivers such a result, claiming Hyde’s argument to be either: unsound, because it misidentifies the true source of vagueness in Sorensen’s Sorites ; invalid, because it fails to generalize to all vague predicates ; or circular, because it presupposes the very thing it tries to prove, namely, higher-order vagueness. This paper contributes to the Sorensen-Hyde vs. Tye-Deas-Hull-Varzi debate by clarifying the relations between vague vagueness and higher-order vagueness. I show how claims of higher-order vagueness are derivable from claims of vague vagueness. This is the missing piece needed to complete Hyde’s argument and overcome the objections presented by Deas, Hull, Tye, and Varzi. I then show how Sorensen’s considerations, once properly generalized, pose more far-reaching consequences about the vagueness of ‘vague’ than either defenders or critics of Hyde’s argument have appreciated.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzw046
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References found in this work BETA

Vague Objects.Michael Tye - 1990 - Mind 99:535.
On Being in a Quandary.Crispin Wright - 2001 - Mind 110 (1):45--98.
Further Reflections on the Sorites Paradox.Crispin Wright - 1987 - Philosophical Topics 15 (1):227-290.
Vagueness: A Fifth Column Approach.Crispin Wright - 2003 - In J. C. Beall (ed.), Liars and Heaps. Oxford University Press.

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I—Columnar Higher-Order Vagueness, or Vagueness is Higher-Order Vagueness.Susanne Bobzien - 2015 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 89 (1):61-87.

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