Epistemicism about vagueness and meta-linguistic safety

Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):277-304 (2008)

Authors
Ofra Magidor
Oxford University
Stephen Kearns
Florida State University
Abstract
The paper challenges Williamson’s safety based explanation for why we cannot know the cut-off point of vague expressions. We assume throughout (most of) the paper that Williamson is correct in saying that vague expressions have sharp cut-off points, but we argue that Williamson’s explanation for why we do not and cannot know these cut-off points is unsatisfactory. In sect 2 we present Williamson's position in some detail. In particular, we note that Williamson's explanation relies on taking a particular safety principle ('Meta-linguistic belief safety' or 'MBS') as a necessary condition on knowledge. In section 3, we show that even if MBS were a necessary condition on knowledge, that would not be sufficient to show that we cannot know the cut-off points of vague expressions. In section 4, we present our main case against Williamson's explanation: we argue that MBS is not a necessary condition on knowledge, by presenting a series of cases where one's belief violates MBS but nevertheless constitutes knowledge. In section 5, we present and respond to an objection to our view. And in section 6, we briefly discuss the possible directions a theory of vagueness can take, if our objection to Williamson's theory is taken on board.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1520-8583.2008.00149.x
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Blindspots.Roy A. Sorensen - 1988 - Oxford University Press.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Semantic Plasticity and Speech Reports.Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (3):281-338.
Arbitrary Reference.Wylie Breckenridge & Ofra Magidor - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (3):377-400.
Epistemicism and Modality.Juhani Yli-Vakkuri - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):803-835.
Semantic Sovereignty.Stephen Kearns & Ofra Magidor - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2):322-350.

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