“Wang's paradox”

There is now a widespread accord among philosophers that the vagueness of natural language gives rise to some particularly deep and perplexing problems and paradoxes. It was not always so. For most of the first century of analytical philosophy, vagueness was generally regarded as a marginal, slightly irritating phenomenon, —receiving some attention, to be sure, in parts of the Philosophical Investigations and in the amateur linguistics enjoyed by philosophers in Oxford in the 1950s, but best idealised away in any serious theoretical treatment of meaning, understanding and valid inference. Frege, as is well known, had come to be thoroughly mistrustful of vagueness, supposing that a language fit for the purpose of articulating scientific and mathematical knowledge would have to be purified of it. Later trends in philosophical logic and semantics followed his lead, not indeed in setting about the (futile) task of expurgating vagueness from natural language but by largely restricting theoretical attention to artificial languages in whose workings vagueness was assigned no role.
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