The eliminability of higher order vagueness

Abstract

It is generally supposed that borderline cases account for the tolerance of vague terms, yet cannot themselves be sharply bounded, leading to infinite levels of higher order vagueness. This higher order vagueness subverts any formal effort to make language precise. However, it is possible to show that tolerance must diminish at higher orders. The attempt to derive it from indiscriminability founders on a simple empirical test, and we learn instead that there is no limit to how small higher order tolerance may become. That means there is no limit to how precisely we may draw the boundaries of borderline cases, thus forestalling any requirement for higher order vagueness.

Author's Profile

Gerald Hull
State University of New York at Binghamton

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2009-01-28

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