What in the World Is Semantic Indeterminacy?

Analytic Philosophy 56 (4):298-317 (2015)
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Discussions of “indeterminacy” customarily distinguish two putative types: semantic indeterminacy (SI)—indeterminacy that’s somehow the product of the semantics of our words/concepts—and metaphysical indeterminacy (MI)—indeterminacy that exists as a mind/language-independent feature of reality itself. A popular and influential thought among philosophers is that all indeterminacy must be SI. In this paper we challenge this thought. Our challenge is guided by the question: What, exactly, does it take for a case of indeterminacy to count as SI? We argue that the only satisfactory answer to this question must take SI to be grounded in a more basic type of MI. We conclude that SI cannot be made sense of without implicating MI. If there’s any indeterminacy, there must be indeterminacy in the world itself.



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Author Profiles

David E. Taylor
University of Minnesota
Alexis Burgess
Pomona College

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References found in this work

The Construction of Logical Space.Agustín Rayo - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Reference and Reflexivity.John Perry - 2001 - Stanford, Calif.: Center for the Study of Language and Inf.
Truth.Michael Dummett - 1959 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 59 (1):141-62.
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. pp. 103-148.

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