British marriage statistics suggest that women of breeding age choose young men. Women past breeding age who could still be raising children extend choices to include older men. After this, women do not marry. The choices of men over 50 are restricted to women between 40 and 55: past breeding but young enough to be raising children; the few men over 50 that marry choose women in this age range.
Most expressions in natural language are vague. But what is the best semantic treatment of terms like 'heap', 'red' and 'child'? And what is the logic of arguments involving this kind of vague expression? These questions are receiving increasing philosophical attention, and in this book, first published in 2000, Rosanna Keefe explores the questions of what we should want from an account of vagueness and how we should assess rival theories. Her discussion ranges widely and comprehensively over the main (...) theories of vagueness and their supporting arguments, and she offers a powerful and original defence of a form of supervaluationism, a theory that requires almost no deviation from standard logic yet can accommodate the lack of sharp boundaries to vague predicates and deal with the paradoxes of vagueness in a methodologically satisfying way. Her study will be of particular interest to readers in philosophy of language and of mind, philosophical logic, epistemology and metaphysics. (shrink)
This volume contains selections from the philosophical writings of James Frederick Ferrier. Ferrier was the Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of St Andrews between 1845 and 1864 and he was one of the earliest post-Hegelian British idealists. He develops a system of absolute idealism via a rejection of the Scottish school of common sense and Enlightenment philosophy in general. These selections focus on his primary philosophical interests: epistemology and ontology. Ferrier denies the possibility of a science of man (...) and suggests that philosophy should focus on self-consciousness, the defining feature of humanity. Jennifer Keefe is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. (shrink)
Vagueness is currently the subject of vigorous debate in the philosophy of logic and language. Vague terms -- such as 'tall', 'red', 'bald', and 'tadpole' -- have borderline cases ; and they lack well-defined extensions. The phenomenon of vagueness poses a fundamental challenge to classical logic and semantics, which assumes that propositions are either true or false and that extensions are determinate.This anthology collects for the first time the most important papers in the field. After a substantial introduction that surveys (...) the field, the essays form four groups, starting with some historically notable pieces. The 1970s saw an explosion of interest in vagueness, and the second group of essays reprints classic papers from this period. The following group of papers represent the best recent work on the logic and semantics of vagueness. The essays in the final group are contributions to the continuing debate about vague objects and vague identity. (shrink)
Logical Pluralists maintain that there is more than one genuine/true logical consequence relation. This paper seeks to understand what the position could amount to and some of the challenges faced by its formulation and defence. I consider in detail Beall and Restall’s Logical Pluralism—which seeks to accommodate radically different logics by stressing the way that they each fit a general form, the Generalised Tarski Thesis (GTT)—arguing against the claim that different instances of GTT are admissible precisifications of logical consequence. I (...) then consider what it is to endorse a logic within a pluralist framework and criticise the options Beall and Restall entertain. A case study involving many-valued logics is examined. I next turn to issues of the applications of different logics and questions of which logic a pluralist should use in particular contexts. A dilemma regarding the applicability of admissible logics is tackled and it is argued that application is a red herring in relation to both understanding and defending a plausible form of logical pluralism. In the final section, I consider other ways to be and not to be a logical pluralist by examining analogous positions in debates over religious pluralism: this, I maintain, illustrates further limitations and challenges for a very general logical pluralism. Certain less wide-ranging pluralist positions are more plausible in both cases, I suggest, but assessment of those positions needs to be undertaken on a case-by-case basis. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a critique of the recent popular strategy of giving a contextualist account of vagueness. Such accounts maintain that truth-values of vague sentences can change with changes of context induced by confronting different entities (e.g. different pairs through a sorites series). I claim that appealing to context does not help in solving the sorites paradox, nor does it give us new insights into vagueness per se. Furthermore, the contextual variation to which the contextualist is committed is (...) problematic in various ways. For example, it yields the consequence that much of our everyday (non-soritical) reasoning is fallacious, and it renders us ignorant of what we and others have said. (shrink)
Taking a series of colour patches, starting with one that clearly looks red, and making each so similar in colour to the previous one that it looks the same as it, we appear to be able to show that a yellow patch looks red. I ask whether phenomenal sorites paradoxes, such as this, are subject to a unique kind of solution that is unavailable in relation to other sorites paradoxes. I argue that they do not need such a solution, nor (...) do they succumb to one. In particular, I reject the claim made by Fara and Raffman that looks the same is a transitive relation, which would allow us to solve phenomenal sorites paradoxes by denying the possibility of the required kind of sorites series. (shrink)
According to columnar higher-order vagueness, all orders of vagueness coincide: any borderline case is a borderline borderline case, and a third-order borderline case, etc. Bobzien has worked out many details of such a theory and models it with a modal logic closely related to S4. I take up a range of questions about the framework and argue that it is not suitable for modelling the structure of vagueness and higher-order vagueness.
This paper asks whether a good philosophical account of something can ever be circular. It explores the kind of circumstances in which an account of F might involve F itself while still serving the functions of and meeting the requirements on a philosophical account. The paper discusses two criteria for acceptable circularity, based on ideas from Humberstone 1997. And it illustrates the surprisingly wide variety of kinds of accounts in which circularity need not be bad.
A theory of vagueness gives a model of vague language and of reasoning within the language. Among the models that have been offered are Degree Theorists’ numerical models that assign values between 0 and 1 to sentences, rather than simply modelling sentences as true or false. In this paper, I ask whether we can benefit from employing a rich, well-understood numerical framework, while ignoring those aspects of it that impute a level of mathematical precision that is not present in the (...) modelled phenomenon of vagueness. Can we ignore apparent implications for the phenomena by pointing out that it is just a model and that the unwanted features are mere artefacts? I explore the distinction between representors and artefacts and criticise the strategy of appealing to features as mere artefacts in defence of a theory. I focus largely on theories using numerical resources, but also consider other, related theories and strategies, including theories appealing to non-linear structures. (shrink)
From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century British Idealism was a leading school of philosophical thought and the Scottish Idealists made important contributions to this philosophical school. In Scotland, there were two types of post-Hegelian idealism: Absolute Idealism and Personal Idealism. This article will show the ways in which these philosophical systems arose by focusing on their leading representatives: Edward Caird and Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison.
Degree theories of vagueness build on the observation that vague predicates such as 'tall' and 'red' come in degrees. They employ an infinite-valued logic, where the truth values correspond to degrees of truth and are typically represented by the real numbers in the interval [0,1]. In this paper, the success with which the numerical assignments of such theories can capture the phenomenon of vagueness is assessed by drawing an analogy with the measurement of various physical quantities using real numbers. I (...) argue that degree theories of vagueness are undermined by the failure of the necessary connectedness principle. Moreover, the semantics for the connectives entail that there must be a uniquely correct numerical assignment for the sentences, and this is implausible. Different senses of 'coming in degrees' are then distinguished; I argue that a confusion between them could be the source of the degree theorist's error, and the distinction illuminates the problem cases described earlier in the paper. (shrink)
If you keep removing single grains of sand from a heap, when is it no longer a heap? From discussions of the heap paradox in classical Greece, to modern formal approaches like fuzzy logic, Timothy Williamson traces the history of the problem of vagueness. He argues that standard logic and formal semantics apply even to vague languages and defends the controversial, realist view that vagueness is a form of ignorance - there really is a grain of sand whose removal turns (...) a heap into a non-heap, but we can never know exactly which one it is. (shrink)
This paper explores several different accounts of validity within the supervaluationist framework that coincide in the absence of the D operator but differ once that operator is introduced. It argues that the alternatives have different advantages and suggests a form of a pluralism about notions of validity within the supervaluationist framework.
Evan's influential argument against vague objects (_Analysis, 1978) has a parallel directed against contingent identity. I argue that Noonan failed in his attempt to accept Evans's argument but save contingent identity by establishing a disanalogy between the two arguments (in The Philosophical Quarterly 1991). Instead, I suggest an alternative way to block the argument against contingent identity and argue that its analogue provides a satisfactory response to Evans's original argument.
This excellent collection of essays on Scottish common sense philosophy arose from the 2014 annual conference for the British Society for the History of Philosophy at The University of Edinburgh. It explores how common sense philosophy emerged during the eighteenth century in response to the ‘Ideal Theory.’ The selected chapters are complementary, offering insight into the philosophical and historical importance of common sense philosophy as well as underlining the breadth of research in the history of Scottish Philosophy.The collection begins and (...) ends with essays that consider under-researched aspects of Scottish Philosophy. It is widely perceived that Reid developed common sense via his reaction to Hume’s... (shrink)
James Frederick Ferrier developed his philosophy from a common sense background. However, his rejection of common sense philosophy in particular and Enlightenment philosophy in general results in the development of a system of idealism. In his series of lectures ‘An Introduction to the Philosophy of Consciousness - Parts I to VII’, which appeared in Blackwoods Magazine (1838–39), he outlines the problem with modern philosophy and argues that philosophy should follow a new direction. In his view, the most peculiar and interesting (...) aspect of humanity is consciousness. He contends that the attempt to develop a ‘science of man’ is impossible because it transforms a person into an object of study and thereby fails to capture the most distinctive aspect of humanity, namely, consciousness. According to Ferrier, philosophy should be an extension of consciousness itself; it is: ‘consciousness sublimed’. This paper will outline the central arguments in ‘An Introduction to the Philosophy of Consciousness’ and show that an early example of British idealism was not only developed out of the common sense tradition but shares with common sense philosophy a focus on the immediate evidence of consciousness, placing the relationship between thought and world at the centre of philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
Uterus transplantation is an emerging technology adding to the arsenal of treatments for infertility; specifically the only available treatment for uterine factor infertility. Ethical investigations concerning risks to uteri donors and transplant recipients have been discussed in the literature. However, missing from the discourse is the potential of uterus transplantation in other groups of genetically XY women who experience uterine factor infertility. There have been philosophical inquiries concerning uterus transplantation in genetically XY women, which includes transgender women and women with (...) complete androgen insufficiency syndrome. We discuss the potential medical steps necessary and associated risks for uterus transplantation in genetically XY women. Presently, the medical technology does not exist to make uterus transplantation a safe and effective option for genetically XY women, however this group should not be summarily excluded from participation in trials. Laboratory research is needed to better understand and reduce medical risk and widen the field to all women who face uterine factor infertility. (shrink)
A framework of degrees of belief, or credences, is often advocated to model our uncertainty about how things are or will turn out. It has also been employed in relation to the kind of uncertainty or indefiniteness that arises due to vagueness, such as when we consider “a is F” in a case where a is borderline F. How should we understand degrees of belief when we take into account both these phenomena? Can the right kind of theory of the (...) semantics of vagueness help us answer this? Nicholas J.J. Smith defends a unified account, according to which “degree of belief is expected truth-value”; this builds on his Degree Theory of vagueness that offers an account of the semantics and logic of vagueness in terms of degrees of truth. I argue that his account fails. Degree theories of vagueness do not help us understand degrees of belief and, I argue, we shouldn’t expect a theory of vagueness to yield a detailed uniform story about this. The route from the semantics to psychological states needn’t be straightforward or uniform even before we attempt to combine vagueness with probabilistic uncertainty. (shrink)