Vagueness as closeness

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):157 – 183 (2005)
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Abstract

This paper presents and defends a definition of vagueness, compares it favourably with alternative definitions, and draws out some consequences of accepting this definition for the project of offering a substantive theory of vagueness. The definition is roughly this: a predicate 'F' is vague just in case for any objects a and b, if a and b are very close in respects relevant to the possession of F, then 'Fa' and 'Fb' are very close in respect of truth. The definition is extended to cover vagueness of many-place predicates, of properties and relations, and of objects. Some of the most important advantages of the definition are that it captures the intuitions which motivate the thought that vague predicates are tolerant, without leading to contradiction, and that it yields a clear understanding of the relationships between higher-order vagueness, sorites susceptibility, blurred boundaries, and borderline cases. The most notable consequence of the definition is that the correct theory of vagueness must countenance degrees of truth.

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Nicholas J. J. Smith
University of Sydney

Citations of this work

A Theory of Metaphysical Indeterminacy.Elizabeth Barnes & J. Robert G. Williams - 2011 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 6. Oxford University Press UK. pp. 103-148.
Ambiguity.Adam Sennet - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Quantum Mechanics and Metaphysical Indeterminacy.George Darby - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (2):227-245.

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Survival and identity.David Lewis - 1976 - In Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), The Identities of Persons. University of California Press. pp. 17-40.
There are no ordinary things.Peter Unger - 1979 - Synthese 41 (2):117 - 154.
Wang's paradox.Michael Dummett - 1975 - Synthese 30 (3-4):201--32.

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