Borderline cases and bivalence

Philosophical Review 114 (1):1-31 (2005)
Diana Raffman
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
It is generally agreed that vague predicates like ‘red’, ‘rich’, ‘tall’, and ‘bald’, have borderline cases of application. For instance, a cloth patch whose color lies midway between a definite red and a definite orange is a borderline case for ‘red’, and an American man five feet eleven inches in height is (arguably) a borderline case for ‘tall’. The proper analysis of borderline cases is a matter of dispute, but most theorists of vagueness agree at least in the thought that borderline cases for vague predicate ‘ ’ are items whose satisfaction of ‘ ’ is in some sense unclear or problematic: it is unclear whether or not the patch is red, unclear whether or not the man is tall.1 For example, Lynda Burns cites a widespread view as holding that borderline cases “are not definitely within the positive or negative extension of the predicate. … Border- line cases are seen as falling within a gap between the cases of definite application of the predicate and cases of definite application of its negation” (1995, 30). Michael Tye writes that the “concept of a border- line case is the concept of a case that is neither definitely in nor defi- nitely out” (1994b, 18).
Keywords vagueness  borderline cases  bivalence  higher-order borderline cases
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DOI 10.1215/00318108-114-1-1
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