Multiple reference and vague objects

Synthese 194 (7):2645-2666 (2017)
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Abstract

Kilimanjaro is an example of what some philosophers would call a ‘vague object’: it is only roughly 5895 m tall, its weight is not precise and its boundaries are fuzzy because some particles are neither determinately part of it nor determinately not part of it. It has been suggested that this vagueness arises as a result of semantic indecision: it is because we didn’t make up our mind what the expression “Kilimanjaro” applies to that we can truthfully say such things as “It is indeterminate whether this particle is part of Kilimanjaro”. After reviewing some of the limitations of this approach, I will propose an alternative account, based on a new semantic relation—multiple reference—capable of holding in a one-many pattern between a term and several objects in the domain. I will explain how multiple reference works, what differentiates it from plural reference and how it might be used to accommodate at least some aspects of our ordinary discourse about vague objects

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Giovanni Merlo
University of Geneva

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References found in this work

New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1996 - New York: Routledge.
Ordinary Objects.Amie L. Thomasson (ed.) - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
New Work For a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1997 - In David Hugh Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. New York: Oxford University Press.
Vagueness, truth and logic.Kit Fine - 1975 - Synthese 30 (3-4):265-300.

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