How To Precisify Quantifiers

Journal of Philosophical Logic 40 (1):103-111 (2011)
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I here argue that Ted Sider's indeterminacy argument against vagueness in quantifiers fails. Sider claims that vagueness entails precisifications, but holds that precisifications of quantifiers cannot be coherently described: they will either deliver the wrong logical form to quantified sentences, or involve a presupposition that contradicts the claim that the quantifier is vague. Assuming (as does Sider) that the “connectedness” of objects can be precisely defined, I present a counter-example to Sider's contention, consisting of a partial, implicit definition of the existential quantifier that in effect sets a given degree of connectedness among the putative parts of an object as a condition upon there being something (in the sense in question) with those parts. I then argue that such an implicit definition, taken together with an “auxiliary logic” (e.g., introduction and elimination rules), proves to function as a precisification in just the same way as paradigmatic precisifications of, e.g., “red”. I also argue that with a quantifier that is stipulated as maximally tolerant as to what mereological sums there are, precisifications can be given in the form of truth-conditions of quantified sentences, rather than by implicit definition.

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Arvid Båve
University of Lisbon


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