In Richard Dietz & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Cuts and Clouds: Vagueness, its Nature, and its Logic. Oxford University Press. pp. 109--130 (2010)

Stephen Schiffer
New York University
I. Vague Properties and the Problem of Vagueness The philosophical problem of vagueness is to say what vagueness is in a way that helps to resolve the sorites paradox. Saying what vagueness is requires saying what kinds of things can be vague and in what the vagueness of each kind consists. Philosophers dispute whether things of this, that, or the other kind can be vague, but no one disputes that there are vague linguistic expressions. Among vague expressions, predicates hold a special place in the problem of vagueness, for it’s their vagueness that is soritesgenerating. That puts the vagueness of predicates at the hub of the problem of vagueness, and there can be little doubt that we’ll be a short step from home if we can account for it. Any account of vagueness will of course require commitment to theses that are themselves foci of philosophical debate, but one can’t expect to get anywhere without taking on some as working hypotheses and then striving to say something that will be plausible if those hypotheses are plausible. One of the working hypotheses of this paper is that propositional attitudes and propositional speech acts are relations to propositions of some stripe or other, in the generic sense in which a proposition is an abstract, mind- and language-independent entity that has a truth condition, and has that truth condition both essentially and absolutely (i.e. without relativization to anything).1 The existence of propositions requires the existence of properties, in the generic sense in which a property is an abstract, mind- and language-independent entity that has an instantiation condition, and has that instantiation condition both essentially and absolutely. For present purposes it will be harmless to pretend that the propositions we believe and assert are Russellian propositions---structured entities whose basic constituents are the objects and properties our beliefs and speech acts are about. When a propositionalist speaks in loosey-goosey mode, she is apt to say that a sentence token is true just in case the proposition expressed in its utterance is true.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,039
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Moral Vagueness: A Dilemma for Non-Naturalism.Cristian Constantinescu - 2014 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 9. Oxford University Press. pp. 152-185.
Communication and Content.Prashant Parikh - 2019 - Berlin, Germany: Language Science Press.
The Problem of Ethical Vagueness for Expressivism.Nicholas Baima - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (4):593-605.
Excluded Knowledge.Christian Lee - 2016 - Synthese 193 (8):1-26.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Vagueness and Inconsistency Tell Us About Interpretation.Scott Soames - 2011 - In Andrei Marmor & Scott Soames (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Language in the Law. Oxford University Press, Usa. pp. 31--57.
Vagueness as Closeness.Nicholas J. J. Smith - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):157 – 183.
Transvaluationism About Vagueness: A Progress Report.Terry Horgan - 2010 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):67-94.


Added to PP index

Total views
133 ( #87,757 of 2,505,227 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #118,975 of 2,505,227 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes