Vague Disagreements and the Sorites Paradox

In Otavio Bueno & Ali Abasnezhad (eds.), Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science 33: On the Sorites Paradox. New York: Springer (forthcoming)
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When you and I seriously argue over whether a man of seventy is old enough to count as an "old man", it seems that we are appealing neither to our own separate standards of oldness nor to a common standard that is already fixed in the language. Instead, it seems that both of us implicitly invoke an ideal, shared standard that has yet to be agreed upon: the place where we ought to draw the line. As with other normative standards, it is hard to know whether such borderlines exist prior to our coming to agree on where they are. But epistemicists plausibly argue that they must exist whether we ever agree on them or not, as this provides the only logically acceptable response to the sorites paradox. This paper argues that such boundaries do typically exist as hypothetical ideals, but not as determinate features of the present actual world. There is in fact no general solution to the paradox, but attention to practice in resolving vague disagreements shows that its instances can be dealt with separately, as they arise, in many reasonable ways.
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