Russell’s Leibnizian Concept of Vagueness

History of Philosophy Quarterly 28 (3):289-301 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The account of vagueness Bertrand Russell provided in his 1923 paper, entitled simply “Vagueness” (see Russell [1923]1997), has been thought by some to be inconsistent. One main objection, raised by Timothy Williamson (1994), is that Russell’s attempt early in the paper to distinguish vagueness from generality is at odds with the definition of vagueness he presents later in the same paper. It is as if, as Williamson puts it, Russell “backslides” from his previous distinction (1994, 60), resulting in a conflation of generality and vagueness that is at best problematic for a rigorous account of the phenomenon of vagueness. In this paper, I will defend Russell from this particular objection. While his 1923 paper may not be as clear at various points as one might hope, I do believe it is possible to construct a single theory of vagueness that can be applied equally well to his earlier and later discussions. Thus, Russell’s view is not ultimately inconsistent. In this paper, I will first present the interpretation of Russell’s concept of vagueness that falls prey to the charge of conflating vagueness and generality. Once the problem is clear, I will present an alternative interpretation, one that arises from certain reflections on G. W. Leibniz’s theory of perception. This Leibnizian interpretation of Russell, I will argue, resolves the apparent contradiction in Russell’s account of vagueness.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,215

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Russell's theses on vagueness.Bertil RolF - 1982 - History and Philosophy of Logic 3 (1):69-83.
Russell on Metaphysical Vagueness.Mark Colyvan - 2001 - Principia 5 (1-2):87-98.
Varieties of vagueness.Trenton Merricks - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):145-157.
Russell on Vagueness.Robert Barnard - 1997 - Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly 95 (1):8--11.
Horgan on vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 2002 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):273-285.
Vagueness.Achille C. Varzi - 2003 - In Lynn Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Vol. 4. Nature Publishing Group. pp. 459–464.
Vagueness: Subvaluationism.Pablo Cobreros - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (5):472-485.
Vagueness : a statistical epistemicist approach.Jiri Benovsky - 2011 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy (3):97-112.
The Problem with Truthmaker-Gap Epistemicism.Mark Jago - 2012 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (4):320-329.

Analytics

Added to PP
2012-10-10

Downloads
43 (#273,631)

6 months
2 (#297,972)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Larry M. Jorgensen
Skidmore College

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - London and New York: Routledge.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (4):589-601.
Vagueness.Loretta Torrago - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (4):637.
Leibnizian expression.Chris Swoyer - 1995 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 33 (1):65-99.

View all 7 references / Add more references