Vagueness in Geography

Philosophy and Geography 4 (1):49–65 (2001)
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Some have argued that the vagueness exhibited by geographic names and descriptions such as ‘Albuquerque’, ‘the Outback’, or ‘Mount Everest’ is ultimately ontological: these terms are vague because they refer to vague objects, objects with fuzzy boundaries. I take the opposite stand and hold the view that geographic vagueness is exclusively semantic, or conceptual at large. There is no such thing as a vague mountain. Rather, there are many things where we conceive a mountain to be, each with its precise boundary, and when we say ‘Everest’ we are just being vague as to which thing we are referring to. This paper defends this view against some plausible objections.

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Achille C. Varzi
Columbia University


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