Temporal externalism and epistemic theories of vagueness

Philosophical Studies 117 (1-2):79-94 (2004)
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Abstract

'Epistemic' theories of vagueness notoriously claim that (despite the appearances to the contrary) all of our vague terms have sharp boundaries, it's just that we can't know what they are. Epistemic theories are typically criticized for failing to explain (1) the source of the ignorance postulated, and (2) how our terms could come to have such precise boundaries. Both of these objections will, however, be shown to rest on certain 'presentist' assumptions about the relation between use and meaning, and if allows that the meaning constitutive elements of our linguistic practices can extend into the future, the possibility of a new sort of 'normative epistemicism' emerges

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Henry Jackman
York University

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