The Illusion of Higher-Order Vagueness

In Richard Dietz & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Vagueness, its Nature and its Logic. Oxford University Press (2009)

Abstract

It is common among philosophers who take an interest in the phenomenon of vagueness in natural language not merely to acknowledge higher-order vagueness but to take its existence as a basic datum— so that views that lack the resources to account for it, or that put obstacles in the way, are regarded as deficient just on that score. My main purpose in what follows is to loosen the hold of this deeply misconceived idea. Higher-order vagueness is no basic datum but an illusion, fostered by misunderstandings of the nature of (ordinary, if you will ‘first-order’) vagueness itself. To see through the illusion is to take a step that is prerequisite for a correct understanding of vagueness, and for any satisfying dissolution of its attendant paradoxes.

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Crispin Wright
University of Stirling

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