What is the Value of Vagueness?

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Classically, vagueness has been regarded as something bad. It leads to the Sorites para-dox, borderline cases, and the (apparent) violation of the logical principle of bivalence. Nevertheless, there have always been people claiming that vagueness is also valuable. Many have pointed out that we could not communicate as successfully or efficiently as we do if we would not use vague language. Indeed, we often use vague terms when we could have used more precise ones instead. Many people (implicitly or explicitly) assume that we do so because their vagueness has a positive function. But how and in what sense can vagueness be said to have a value? This paper is an attempt to give an answer to this question. It examines seven arguments that can be reconstructed from the literature. The (negative) result of this examination is, however, that there is not much reason to believe that vagueness has a positive function at all, since none of the arguments is (even re-motely) conclusive.
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Archival date: 2020-07-26
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