Against the vagueness argument

Philosophia 37 (2):335-340 (2009)
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Abstract

In this paper I offer a counterexample to the so called vagueness argument against restricted composition. This will be done in the lines of a recent suggestion by Trenton Merricks, namely by challenging the claim that there cannot be a sharp cut-off point in a composition sequence. It will be suggested that causal powers which emerge when composition occurs can serve as an indicator of such sharp cut-off points. The main example will be the case of a heap. It seems that heaps might provide a very plausible counterexample to the vagueness argument if we accept the idea that four grains of sand is the least number required to compose a heap—the case has been supported by W. D. Hart. My purpose here is not to put forward a new theory of composition, I only wish to refute the vagueness argument and point out that we should be wary of arguments of its form.

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Tuomas E. Tahko
University of Bristol

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