In VAGUENESS AND DEGREES OF TRUTH, Nicholas Smith develops a new theory of vagueness: fuzzy plurivaluationism. -/- A predicate is said to be VAGUE if there is no sharply defined boundary between the things to which it applies and the things to which it does not apply. For example, 'heavy' is vague in a way that 'weighs over 20 kilograms' is not. A great many predicates -- both in everyday talk, and in a wide array of theoretical vocabularies, from law (...) to psychology to engineering -- are vague. -/- Smith argues, based on a detailed account of the defining features of vagueness, that an accurate theory of vagueness must involve the idea that truth comes in degrees. The core idea of degrees of truth is that while some sentences are true and some are false, others possess intermediate truth values: they are truer than the false sentences, but not as true as the true ones. Degree-theoretic treatments of vagueness have been proposed in the past, but all have encountered significant objections. In light of these, Smith develops a new type of degree theory. Its innovations include a definition of logical consequence that allows the derivation of a classical consequence relation from the degree-theoretic semantics, a unified account of degrees of belief and their relationships with degrees of truth and subjective probabilities, and the incorporation of semantic indeterminacy -- the view that vague statements need not have unique meanings -- into the degree-theoretic framework. -/- As well as being essential reading for those working on vagueness, Smith's book provides an excellent entry-point for newcomers to the area -- both from elsewhere in philosophy, and from computer science, logic and engineering. It contains a thorough introduction to existing theories of vagueness and to the requisite logical background. (shrink)
This paper presents a new argument against A-theories of time. A-theorists hold that there is an objective now (present moment) and an objective flow of time, the latter constituted by the movement of the objective now through time. A-theorists therefore want to draw different pictures of reality—showing the objective now in different positions—depending upon the time at which the picture is drawn. In this paper it is argued that the times at which the different pictures are drawn may be taken (...) to be normal times or hypertimes. If they are normal times then the A-theory is inconsistent, or else collapses to the B-theory—and appealing to primitive tense operators will not help A-theorists avoid this conclusion. If the times are hypertimes then the A-theory is consistent, but deeply problematic none the less. (shrink)
This paper argues that the most famous objection to backward time travel can carry no weight. In its classic form, the objection is that backward time travel entails the occurrence of impossible things, such as auto-infanticide—and hence is itself impossible. David Lewis has rebutted the classic version of the objection: auto-infanticide is prevented by coincidences, such as time travellers slipping on banana peels as they attempt to murder their younger selves. I focus on Paul Horwich‘s more recent version of the (...) objection, according to which backward time travel entails not impossible things, but improbable ones—such as the string of slips on banana peels that would be required to stop a determined auto-infanticidal maniac from murdering her younger self—and hence is itself highly improbable. I argue that backward time travel does not entail unusual numbers of coincidences; and that, even if it did, that would not render its occurrence unlikely. (shrink)
This paper defends the idea that there might be vagueness or indeterminacy in the world itself--as opposed to merely in our representations of the world--against the charges of incoherence and unintelligibility. First we consider the idea that the world might contain vague properties and relations ; we show that this idea is already implied by certain well-understood views concerning the semantics of vague predicates (most notably the fuzzy view). Next we consider the idea that the world might contain vague objects (...) ; we argue that an object is indeterminate in a certain respect (colour, size, etc.) just in case it is a borderline case of a maximally specific colour (size, etc.) property. Finally we consider the idea that the world as a whole might be indeterminate; we argue that the world is indeterminate just in case it lacks a determinate division into determinate objects. (shrink)
Orthodoxy has it that mereological composition can never be a vague matter, for if it were, then existence would sometimes be a vague matter too, and that's impossible. I accept that vague composition implies vague existence, but deny that either is impossible. In this paper I develop degree-theoretic versions of quantified modal logic and of mereology, and combine them in a framework that allows us to make clear sense of vague composition and vague existence, and the relationships between them.
This paper presents a new solution to the problems for orthodox decision theory posed by the Pasadena game and its relatives. I argue that a key question raised by consideration of these gambles is whether evaluative compositionality (as I term it) is a requirement of rationality: is the value that an ideally rational agent places on a gamble determined by the values that she places on its possible outcomes, together with their mode of composition into the gamble (i.e. the probabilities (...) assigned to them)? The paper first outlines a certain simple response to the Pasadena game and identifies two problems with this response, the second of which is that it leads to a wholesale violation of evaluative compositionality. I then argue that rationality does not require decision makers to factor in outcomes of arbitrarily low probability. A method for making decisions which flows from this basic idea is then developed, and it is shown that this decision method (Truncation) leads to a limited — as opposed to wholesale — violation of evaluative compositionality. The paper then argues that the truncation method yields solutions to the problems posed by the Pasadena game and its relatives that are both attractive in themselves and superior to those yielded by alternative proposals in the literature. (shrink)
There is an extensive literature on time travel in both philosophy and physics. Part of the great interest of the topic stems from the fact that reasons have been given both for thinking that time travel is physically possible—and for thinking that it is logically impossible! This entry deals primarily with philosophical issues; issues related to the physics of time travel are covered in the separate entries on time travel and modern physics and time machines. We begin with the definitional (...) question: what is time travel? We then turn to the major objection to the possibility of backwards time travel: the Grandfather paradox. Next, issues concerning causation are discussed—and then, issues in the metaphysics of time and change. We end with a discussion of the question why, if backwards time travel will ever occur, we have not been visited by time travellers from the future. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Logic is essential to correct reasoning and also has important theoretical applications in philosophy, computer science, linguistics, and mathematics. This book provides an exceptionally clear introduction to classical logic, with a unique approach that emphasizes both the hows and whys of logic. Here Nicholas Smith thoroughly covers the formal tools and techniques of logic while also imparting a deeper understanding of their underlying rationales and broader philosophical significance. In addition, this is the only introduction to logic available today that presents (...) all the major forms of proof--trees, natural deduction in all its major variants, axiomatic proofs, and sequent calculus. The book also features numerous exercises, with solutions available on an accompanying website. -/- Logic is the ideal textbook for undergraduates and graduate students seeking a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the subject. -/- Provides an essential introduction to classical logic Emphasizes the how and why of logic Covers both formal and philosophical issues Presents all the major forms of proof--from trees to sequent calculus Features numerous exercises, with solutions available online The ideal textbook for undergraduates and graduate students . (shrink)
One of the most striking differences between Frege's Begriffsschrift (logical system) and standard contemporary systems of logic is the inclusion in the former of the judgement stroke: a symbol which marks those propositions which are being asserted , that is, which are being used to express judgements . There has been considerable controversy regarding both the exact purpose of the judgement stroke, and whether a system of logic should include such a symbol. This paper explains the intended role of the (...) judgement stroke in a way that renders it readily comprehensible why Frege insisted that this symbol was an essential part of his logical system. The key point here is that Frege viewed logic as the study of inference relations amongst acts of judgement , rather than – as in the typical contemporary view – of consequence relations amongst certain objects (propositions or well-formed formulae). The paper also explains why Frege's use of the judgement stroke is not in conflict with his avowed anti-psychologism, and why Wittgenstein's criticism of the judgement stroke as 'logically quite meaningless' is unfounded. The key point here is that while the judgement stroke has no content , its use in logic and mathematics is subject to a very stringent norm of assertion. (shrink)
A number of authors have noted that vagueness engenders degrees of belief, but that these degrees of belief do not behave like subjective probabilities. So should we countenance two different kinds of degree of belief: the kind arising from vagueness, and the familiar kind arising from uncertainty, which obey the laws of probability? I argue that we cannot coherently countenance two different kinds of degree of belief. Instead, I present a framework in which there is a single notion of degree (...) of belief, which in certain circumstances behaves like a subjective probability assignment and in other circumstances does not. The core idea is that one’s degree of belief in a proposition P is one’s expectation of P’s degree of truth. (shrink)
In this paper I present a new argument against vague identity — one that is more fundamental than existing arguments — and I also try to explain why we find the idea of vague identity puzzling, in a way that will dispel the puzzlement. In brief, my argument is this: to make clear sense of something, one must at least model it set-theoretically; but due to the special place of identity in set-theoretic models, any vague relation that one does model (...) set-theoretically will not be identity, for real identity will already be there, built into the background of the model, and perfectly precise. (shrink)
A many-valued (aka multiple- or multi-valued) semantics, in the strict sense, is one which employs more than two truth values; in the loose sense it is one which countenances more than two truth statuses. So if, for example, we say that there are only two truth values—True and False—but allow that as well as possessing the value True and possessing the value False, propositions may also have a third truth status—possessing neither truth value—then we have a many-valued semantics in the (...) loose but not the strict sense. A many-valued logic is one which arises from a many-valued semantics and does not also arise from any two-valued semantics [Malinowski, 1993, 30]. By a ‘logic’ here we mean either a set of tautologies, or a consequence relation. We can best explain these ideas by considering the case of classical propositional logic. The language contains the usual basic symbols (propositional constants p, q, r, . . .; connectives ¬, ∧, ∨, →, ↔; and parentheses) and well-formed formulas are defined in the standard way. With the language thus specified—as a set of well-formed formulas—its semantics is then given in three parts. (i) A model of a logical language consists in a free assignment of semantic values to basic items of the non-logical vocabulary. Here the basic items of the non-logical vocabulary are the propositional constants. The appropriate kind of semantic value for a proposition is a truth value, and so a model of the language consists in a free assignment of truth values to basic propositions. Two truth values are countenanced: 1 (representing truth) and 0 (representing falsity). (ii) Rules are presented which determine a truth value for every proposition of the language, given a model. The most common way of presenting these rules is via truth tables (Figure 1). Another way of stating such rules—which will be useful below—is first to introduce functions on the truth values themselves: a unary function ¬ and four binary functions ∧, ∨, → and ↔ (Figure 2).. (shrink)
This paper presents a new theory of vagueness, which is designed to retain the virtues of the fuzzy theory, while avoiding the problem of higher-order vagueness. The theory presented here accommodates the idea that for any statement S₁ to the effect that 'Bob is bald' is x true, for x in [0, 1], there should be a further statement S₂ which tells us how true S₁ is, and so on - that is, it accommodates higher-order vagueness without resorting to the (...) claim that the metalanguage in which the semantics of vagueness is presented is itself vague, and without requiring us to abandon the idea that the logic - as opposed to the semantics - of vague discourse is classical. I model the extension of a vague predicate P as a blurry set, this being a function which assigns a degree of membership or degree function to each object o, where a degree function in turn assigns an element of [0, 1] to each finite sequence of elements of [0, 1]. The idea is that the assignment to the sequence (0.3, 0.2), for example, represents the degree to which it is true to say that it is 0.2 true that o is P to degree 0.3. The philosophical merits of my theory are discussed in detail, and the theory is compared with other extensions and generalisations of fuzzy logic in the literature. (shrink)
If we think, as Ramsey did, that a degree of belief that P is a stronger or weaker tendency to act as if P, then it is clear that not only uncertainty, but also vagueness, gives rise to degrees of belief. If I like hot coffee and do not know whether the coffee is hot or cold, I will have some tendency to reach for a cup; if I like hot coffee and know that the coffee is borderline hot, I (...) will have some tendency to reach for a cup. Suppose that we take degrees of belief arising from uncertainty to obey the laws of probability and that we model vagueness using degrees of truth. We then encounter a problem: it does not look as though degrees of belief arising from vagueness should obey the laws of probability. One response would be to countenance two different sorts of degrees of belief: degrees of belief arising from uncertainty, which obey the laws of probability; and degrees of belief arising from vagueness, which obey a different set of laws. I argue, however, that if a degree of belief that P is a stronger or weaker tendency to act as if P, then this option is not open. Instead, I propose an account of the behaviour of degrees of belief that integrates subjective probabilities and degrees of truth. On this account, degrees of belief are expectations of degrees of truth. The account explains why degrees of belief behave in accordance with the laws of probability in cases involving only uncertainty, while also allowing degrees of belief to behave differently in cases involving only vagueness, and in mixed cases involving both uncertainty and vagueness. Justifications of the account are given both via Dutch books and in terms of epistemic accuracy. (shrink)
It has been argued that alethic pluralists -- who hold that there are several distinct truth properties -- face a problem when it comes to defining validity. Via consideration of the classical concept of logical consequence, and of strategies for defining validity in many-valued logics, this paper proposes two new kinds of solution to the problem.
This paper addresses a worry about backwards time travel. The worry is that there is something mysteriously inexplicable about the combination of commonplace events that will inevitably conspire to prevent the time traveler from doing something impossible such as killing her younger self. The worry is first distinguished from other problems for backwards time travel concerning its alleged impossibility or improbability. It is then shown that the worry is misplaced: there is in fact no real problem here. Yet the worry (...) has been widely expressed—so a suggestion is also made as to why it is so easy to get into the position of thinking that there is a genuine problem here, when in fact there is not. Finally, in light of the resolution of the inexplicability worry, a new way of dealing with the other two problems for backwards time travel—concerning its alleged impossibility and improbability—is proposed. (shrink)
Graham Priest (1994) has argued that the following paradoxes all have the same structure: Russell’s Paradox, Burali-Forti’s Paradox, Mirimanoff’s Paradox, König’s Paradox, Berry’s Paradox, Richard’s Paradox, the Liar and Liar Chain Paradoxes, the Knower and Knower Chain Paradoxes, and the Heterological Paradox. Their common structure is given by Russell’s Schema: there is a property φ and function δ such that..
I have argued for a picture of decision theory centred on the principle of Rationally Negligible Probabilities. Isaacs argues against this picture on the grounds that it has an untenable implication. I first examine whether my view really has this implication; this involves a discussion of the legitimacy or otherwise of infinite decisions. I then examine whether the implication is really undesirable and conclude that it is not.
A common objection to theories of vagueness based on fuzzy logics centres on the idea that assigning a single numerical degree of truth -- a real number between 0 and 1 -- to each vague statement is excessively precise. A common objection to Bayesian epistemology centres on the idea that assigning a single numerical degree of belief -- a real number between 0 and 1 -- to each proposition is excessively precise. In this paper I explore possible parallels between these (...) objections. In particular I argue that the only good objection along these lines to fuzzy theories of vagueness does not translate into a good objection to Bayesian epistemology. An important part of my argument consists in drawing a distinction between two different notions of degree of belief, which I call dispositional degree of belief and epistemic degree of belief. (shrink)
In this note I raise a new problem for backwards time travel, and make some first suggestions as to how it might be solved. I call it the motivation problem. It is not a logical or a metaphysical problem, but a psychological one. It does not impact upon the possibility, or even the likelihood, of backwards time travel. Yet it is deeply puzzling, and we will have no idea what time travel would actually be like until we explore it. Thus, (...) where other problems for backward time travel assume that we know what time travel would be like, and argue that we cannot have it, this new problem gives us no reason to think that we cannot have time travel, but argues that we have much less idea than we usually suppose about what it would really be like to travel back in time. (shrink)
One of Tarski’s stated aims was to give an explication of the classical conception of truth—truth as ‘saying it how it is’. Many subsequent commentators have felt that he achieved this aim. Tarski’s core idea of defining truth via satisfaction has now found its way into standard logic textbooks. This paper looks at such textbook definitions of truth in a model for standard first-order languages and argues that they fail from the point of view of explication of the classical notion (...) of truth. The paper furthermore argues that a subtly different definition—also to be found in classic textbooks but much less prevalent than the kind of definition that proceeds via satisfaction—succeeds from this point of view. (shrink)
In this position paper we present a logical framework for modelling reasoning with graded predicates. We distinguish several types of graded predicates and discuss their ubiquity in rational interaction and the logical challenges they pose. We present mathematical fuzzy logic as a set of logical tools that can be used to model reasoning with graded predicates, and discuss a philosophical account of vagueness that makes use of these tools. This approach is then generalized to other kinds of graded predicates. Finally, (...) we propose a general research program towards a logic-based account of reasoning with graded predicates. (shrink)
Humans have long been fascinated by the idea of visiting the past and of seeing what the future will bring. Time travel has been one of the most popular themes of science fiction. Most people have seen the TV series ‘Dr Who’ or ‘Quantum Leap’ or ‘Star Trek’. You’ve probably seen one of the ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Terminator’ movies, or ‘Twelve Monkeys’. Time travel narratives provide fascinating plots, which exercise our imaginations in ever so many ways. But is (...) the idea of travelling forward and backward in time pure fantasy—or can it be done? To be sure, not all time travel scenarios are coherent. But we hope to persuade you that the most common objections to the very idea of time travel have no real force. (shrink)
Philosophers, linguists and others interested in problems concerning natural language frequently employ tools from logic and model theory. The question arises as to the proper interpretation of the formal methods employed—of the relationship between, on the one hand, the formal languages and their set-theoretic models and, on the other hand, the objects of ultimate interest: natural language and the meanings and truth conditions of its constituent words, phrases and sentences. Two familiar answers to this question are descriptivism and instrumentalism. More (...) recently, a third answer has been proposed: the logic as modelling view. This paper seeks to clarify and assess this view of logic. The conclusion is that we can successfully adopt the modelling perspective on a given piece of logical machinery only if we have to hand some other machinery to which we take the descriptive attitude. Thus, logic as modelling is not a full-ﬂedged alternative to the descriptive view— for it cannot stand alone: it can at best be an addition to the descriptive perspective. The paper ﬁrst presents the argument in a general, abstract form, before working through a detailed case study. The case examined is the one with respect to which the logic as modelling view has been developed in the greatest detail in the literature: the case of fuzzy model theory as an account of vagueness in natural language. (shrink)
This paper brings to light a new puzzle for Frege interpretation, and offers a solution to that puzzle. The puzzle concerns Frege’s judgement-stroke (‘|’), and consists in a tension between three of Frege’s claims. First, Frege vehemently maintains that psychological considerations should have no place in logic. Second, Frege regards the judgementstroke—and the associated dissociation of assertoric force from content, of the act of judgement from the subject matter about which judgement is made—as a crucial part of his logic. Third, (...) Frege holds that judging is an inner mental process, and that the distinction marked by the judgement-stroke, between entertaining a thought and judging that it is true, is a psychological distinction. I argue that what initially looks like confusion here on Frege’s part appears quite reasonable when we remind ourselves of the differences between Frege’s conception of logic and our own. (shrink)
In this paper I present a new theory of propositions, according to which propositions are abstract mathematical objects: well-formed formulas together with models. I distinguish the theory from a number of existing views and explain some of its advantages chief amongst which are the following. On this view, propositions are unified and intrinsically truth-bearing. They are mind- and language-independent and they are governed by logic. The theory of propositions is ontologically innocent. It makes room for an appropriate interface with (...) formal semantics and it does not enforce an overly fine or overly coarse level of granularity. (shrink)
My task here is the ﬁrst one. I do present a consistent formal system and claim that it provides a perfect model of natural languages such as English, but this system involves no surprises. It is none other than the standard framework of classical logic and model theory. The real weight of the argument lies in the claim that the classical framework—without alteration or addition—contains the resources to model what happens when we say in English ‘This sentence is not true’.
Book Information Travels in Four Dimensions: The Enigmas of Space and Time. Travels in Four Dimensions: The Enigmas of Space and Time Robin Le Poidevin , Oxford : Clarendon Press , 2003 , xvii + 275 , £14.99 ( cloth ); £8.99 ( paper ) By Robin Le Poidevin. Clarendon Press. Oxford. Pp. xvii + 275. £14.99 (cloth:); £8.99 (paper:).
The major reason given in the philosophical literature for dissatisfaction with theories of vagueness based on fuzzy logic is that such theories give rise to a problem of higherorder vagueness or artificial precision. In this paper I first outline the problem and survey suggested solutions: fuzzy epistemicism; measuring truth on an ordinal scale; logic as modelling; fuzzy metalanguages; blurry sets; and fuzzy plurivaluationism. I then argue that in order to decide upon a solution, we need to understand the true nature (...) and source of the problem. Two possible sources are discussed: the problem stems from the very nature of vagueness—from the defining features of vague predicates; or the problem stems from the way in which the meanings of predicates are determined—by the usage of speakers together with facts about their environment and so on. I argue that the latter is the true source of the problem, and on this basis that fuzzy plurivaluationism is the correct solution. (shrink)
In an earlier paper I argued that time travellers cannot change the past: alleged models of changing the past either fall into contradiction or else involve avoiding, not changing, the past. Goddu has responded to my argument, maintaining that his hypertime model involves time travellers changing (not avoiding) the past. In the present paper I first discuss what would be required to substantiate the claim that a given model involves changing rather than avoiding the past. I then consider Goddu's hypertime (...) model and an earlier model due to Meiland. I argue that neither author does what would be required to substantiate the claim that the model involves changing (not avoiding) the past. I go on to give reasons for the stronger claim that no-one can present a coherent model and also substantiate the claim that it involves changing (not avoiding) the past. (shrink)
Rosanna Keefe (`Vagueness by Numbers' MIND 107 1998 565--79) argues that theories of vagueness based upon fuzzy logic and set theory rest on a confusion: once we have assigned a number to an object to represent (for example) its *height*, there is no distinct purpose left to be served by assigning a number to the object to represent its *degree of tallness*; she claims that ``any numbers assigned in an attempt to capture the vagueness of `tall' do no more than (...) serve as another measure of height.'' In this paper I defend fuzzy theories of vagueness against Keefe's attack. I show that the numbers that we assign to objects to measure (for example) heights serve a quite distinct purpose from the numbers that fuzzy theories of vagueness assign to objects to measure degrees of tallness: the two sorts of assignment are both *formally* and *conceptually* distinct; the fuzzy approach to vagueness is well-motivated and free of confusion. (shrink)
Epiphenomenalism is a theory concerning the relation between the mental and physical realms, regarded as radically different in nature. The theory holds that only physical states have causal power, and that mental states are completely dependent on them. The mental realm, for epiphenomenalists, is nothing more than a series of conscious states which signify the occurrence of states of the nervous system, but which play no causal role. For example, my feeling sleepy does not cause my yawning — rather, both (...) the feeling and the yawning are effects of an underlying neural state. (shrink)
In the context of classical (crisp, precise) sets, there is a familiar connection between the notions of counting, ordering and cardinality. When it comes to vague collections, the connection has not been kept in central focus: there have been numerous proposals regarding the cardinality of vague collections, but these proposals have tended to be discussed in isolation from issues of counting and ordering. My main concern in this paper is to draw focus back onto the connection between these notions. I (...) propose a natural generalisation to the vague case of the familiar process of counting precise collections. I then discuss the relationships between this process of counting and various notions of ordering and cardinality for vague sets. Some existing views concerning the cardinality of vague collections fit better than others with my proposal about how to count the members of such a collection. In particular, the idea that we should approach cardinality via certain formulas of a logical language -- which has been prominent in the recent literature -- is less attractive than other existing proposals. (shrink)
A requirement on any theory of vagueness is that it solve the sorites paradox. It is generally agreed that there are two aspects to such a solution: one task is to locate the error in the sorites argument; the second task is to explain why the sorites reasoning is a paradox rather than a simple mistake. I argue for a further constraint on approaches to the second task: they should conform to the standard modus operandi in formal semantics, in which (...) the semantic theory one develops is taken to be implicit in the ordinary usage of competent speakers. Thus it should not turn out that one's explanation of why ordinary speakers react to the sorites reasoning in the way they do depends on speakers NOT thinking that the semantics of vague language is governed by the theory one is advocating. I then argue that, out of the current main contenders for a theory of vagueness, only theories that posit degrees of truth can meet this further constraint. (shrink)
Different formal tools are useful for different purposes. For example, when it comes to modelling degrees of belief, probability theory is a better tool than classical logic; when it comes to modelling the truth of mathematical claims, classical logic is a better tool than probability theory. In this paper I focus on a widely used formal tool and argue that it does not provide a good model of a phenomenon of which many think it does provide a good model: I (...) shall argue that while supervaluationism may provide a model of probability of truth, or of assertability, it cannot provide a good model of truth -- supertruth cannot be truth. The core of the argument is that an adequate model of truth must render certain connectives truth-functional (at least in certain circumstances) -- and supervaluationism does not do so (in those circumstances). (shrink)
This paper defends the idea that there might be vagueness or indeterminacy in the world itself---as opposed to merely in our representations of the world---against the charges of incoherence and unintelligibility. First we consider the idea that the world might contain vague *properties and relations*; we show that this idea is already implied by certain well-understood views concerning the semantics of vague predicates (most notably the fuzzy view). Next we consider the idea that the world might contain vague *objects*; we (...) argue that an object is indeterminate in a certain respect (colour, size, etc.) just in case it is a borderline case of a maximally specific colour (size, etc.) property. Finally we consider the idea that the *world as a whole* might be indeterminate; we argue that the world is indeterminate just in case it lacks a determinate division into determinate objects. (shrink)
The storage hypothesis—as described by Norby—is a descriptive thesis (for it yields systematic predictions of human behaviour across a wide range of situations) that has as a core commitment that degrees of belief are stable, persistent states. It is not clear to me that such a view is widely held in philosophy. If the storage hypothesis is not widely held, then arguments against it become less interesting. But is Norby’s argument against the view compelling in any case? I shall argue (...) that it is not. (shrink)