Philosophy Compass 9 (1):33-44 (2014)

Steven Tester
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
There has recently been a growing interest in the topic of vagueness and indeterminacy in contemporary metaphysics, with two views taking center stage. The semantic view holds that indeterminacy is due to vagueness in the extension of concepts, while the ontological view holds that indeterminacy is due to the vagueness of certain objects. There has, however, been little research on discussions of vagueness and indeterminacy in early-modern philosophy despite the relevance of vagueness and indeterminacy for issues such as real and nominal definitions, clear and distinct ideas, and the principle of complete determination. In this paper, I survey discussions of vagueness in Locke, Leibniz, and Kant and point to ways in which the problem of vagueness and indeterminacy touches on broader issues in their respective philosophies. Although Locke, Leibniz, and Kant all suggest that vagueness is a semantic phenomenon, Kant also appears to countenance an ontological view according to which objects as appearances may sometimes be indeterminate
Keywords Kant  Locke  Leibniz  Metaphysics  Vagueness
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/phc3.12094
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: 62,513
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

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1991 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Blackwell. pp. 449-451.
Vagueness, Truth and Logic.Kit Fine - 1975 - Synthese 30 (3-4):265-300.
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.David Hume - 1955 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press. pp. 112.

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Leibniz and the Sorites.Samuel Levey - 2002 - The Leibniz Review 12:25-49.
Deconstructing Ontological Vagueness.Matti Eklund - 2008 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (1):117-140.
The Problem with Truthmaker-Gap Epistemicism.Mark Jago - 2012 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (4):320-329.
Russell’s Leibnizian Concept of Vagueness.Larry M. Jorgensen - 2011 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 28 (3):289-301.
Vague Entailment.David Barnett - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (2):325 - 335.
Is Vagueness Sui Generis ?David Barnett - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):5 – 34.


Added to PP index

Total views
55 ( #192,413 of 2,446,442 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #231,624 of 2,446,442 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes