Neutralism is the broad view that philosophical progress can take place when (and sometimes only when) a thoroughly neutral, non-specific theory, treatment, or methodology is adopted. The broad goal here is to articulate a distinct, specific kind of soritesparadox (The Observational SoritesParadox) and show that it can be effectively treated via Neutralism.
A sorites argument is a symptom of the vagueness of the predicate with which it is constructed. A vague predicate admits of at least one dimension of variation (and typically more than one) in its intended range along which we are at a loss when to say the predicate ceases to apply, though we start out confident that it does. It is this feature of them that the sorites arguments exploit. Exactly how is part of the subject of (...) this paper. The majority of philosophers writing on vagueness take it to be a kind of semantic phenomenon. If we are right, they are correct in this assumption, which is surely the default position, but they have not so far provided a satisfactory account of the implications of this or a satisfactory diagnosis of the sorites arguments. Other philosophers have urged more exotic responses, which range from the view that the fault lies not in our language, but in the world, which they propose to be populated with vague objects which our semantics precisely reflects, to the view that the world and language are both perfectly in order, but that the fault lies with our knowledge of the properties of the words we use (epistemicism). In contrast to the exotica to which some philosophers have found themselves driven in an attempt to respond to the sorites puzzles, we undertake a defense of the commonsense view that vague terms are semantically vague. Our strategy is to take fresh look at the phenomenon of vagueness. Rather than attempting to adjudicate between different extant theories, we begin with certain pre-theoretic intuitions about vague terms, and a default position on classical logic. The aim is to see whether (i) a natural story can be told which will explain the vagueness phenomenon and the puzzling nature of soritical arguments, and, in the course of this, to see whether (ii) there arises any compelling pressure to give up the natural stance. We conclude that there is a simple and natural story to be told, and we tell it, and that there is no good reason to abandon our intuitively compelling starting point. The importance of the strategy lies in its dialectical structure. Not all positions on vagueness are on a par. Some are so incredible that even their defenders think of them as positions of last resort, positions to which we must be driven by the power of philosophical argument. We aim to show that there is no pressure to adopt these incredible positions, obviating the need to respond to them directly. If we are right, semantic vagueness is neither surprising, nor threatening. It provides no reason to suppose that the logic of natural languages is not classical or to give up any independently plausible principle of bivalence. Properly understood, it provides us with a satisfying diagnosis of the sorites argumentation. It would be rash to claim to have any completely novel view about a topic so well worked as vagueness. But we believe that the subject, though ancient, still retains its power to inform and challenge us. In particular, we will argue that taking seriously the central phenomenon of predicate vagueness—the “boundarylessness” of vague predicates—on the commonsense assumption that vagueness is semantic, leads ineluctably to the view that no sentences containing vague expressions (henceforth ‘vague sentences’) are truth-evaluable. This runs counter to much of the literature on vagueness, which commonly assumes that, though some applications of vague predicates to objects fail to be truth-evaluable, in clear positive and negative cases vague sentences are unproblematically true or false. It is clarity on this, and related points, that removes the puzzles associated with vagueness, and helps us to a satisfying diagnosis of why the sorites arguments both seem compelling and yet so obviously a bit of trickery. We give a proof that semantically vague predicates neither apply nor fail-to-apply to anything, and that consequently it is a mistake to diagnose sorites arguments, as is commonly done, by attempting to locate in them a false premise. Sorites arguments are not sound, but not unsound either. We offer an explanation of their appeal, and defend our position against a variety of worries that might arise about it. The plan of the paper is as follows. We first introduce an important distinction in terms of which we characterize what has gone wrong with vague predicates. We characterize what we believe to be our natural starting point in thinking about the phenomenon of vagueness, from which only a powerful argument should move us, and then trace out the consequences of accepting this starting point. We consider the charge that among the consequences of semantic vagueness are that we must give up classical logic and the principle of bivalence, which has figured prominently in arguments for epistemicism. We argue there are no such consequences of our view: neither the view that the logic of natural languages is classical, nor any plausible principle of bivalence, need be given up. Next, we offer a diagnosis of what has gone wrong in sorites arguments on the basis of our account. We then present an argument to show that our account must be accepted on pain of embracing (in one way or another) the epistemic view of “vagueness”, i.e., of denying that there are any semantically vague terms at all. Next, we discuss some worries that may arise about the intelligibility of our linguistic practices if our account is correct. We argue none of these worries should force us from our intuitive starting point. Finally, we cast a quick glance at other forms of semantic incompleteness. (shrink)
The first part of the chapter surveys some of the main ways in which the SoritesParadox has figured in arguments in practical philosophy in recent decades, with special attention to arguments where the paradox is used as a basis for criticism. Not coincidentally, the relevant arguments all involve the transitivity of value in some way. The second part of the chapter is more probative, focusing on two main themes. First, I further address the relationship between the (...)SoritesParadox and the main arguments discussed in the first part, by elucidating in what sense they rely on (something like) tolerance principles. Second, I briefly discuss the prospect of rejecting the respective principles, aiming to show that we can do so for some of the arguments but not for others. The reason is that in the latter cases the principles do not function as independent premises in the reasoning but, rather, follow from certain fundamental features of the relevant scenarios. I also argue that not even adopting what is arguably the most radical way to block the SoritesParadox – that of weakening the consequence relation – suffices to invalidate these arguments. (shrink)
The dissertation has two parts, each dealing with a problem, namely: 1) What is the most adequate account of fuzziness -the so-called phenomenon of vagueness?, and 2) what is the most plausible solution to the sorites, or heap paradox? I will try to show that fuzzy properties are those which are gradual, amenable to be possessed in a greater or smaller extent. Acknowledgement of degrees in the instantiation of a property allows for a gradual transition from one opposite (...) to the other, each intermediate stage constituting an overlap in certain proportion of both contraries. Hence, degrees in the possession of a property give rise to simple contradictions. The reason why I have chosen those two questions is that they provide the main philosophical motivation for a particular brand of an infinite valued and paraconsistent logic. I will claim that Classical logic (CL) is not adequate to handle fuzzy situations, and, being deficient, is in need of being expanded to make room for degrees of truth and weak contradictions. One can hardly deny the importance of the debate, since what is ultimately at stake is what the limits of truth, rationality, intelligibility and possibility are. The main disciplines within which the research moves are the philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, and ontology. (shrink)
Gender is both indeterminate and multifaceted: many individuals do not fit neatly into accepted gender categories, and a vast number of characteristics are relevant to determining a person's gender. This article demonstrates how these two features, taken together, enable gender to be modeled as a multidimensional soritesparadox. After discussing the diverse terminology used to describe gender, I extend Helen Daly's research into sex classifications in the Olympics and show how varying testosterone levels can be represented using a (...)sorites argument. The most appropriate way of addressing the paradox that results, I propose, is to employ fuzzy logic. I then move beyond physiological characteristics and consider how gender portrayals in reality television shows align with Judith Butler's notion of performativity, thereby revealing gender to be composed of numerous criteria. Following this, I explore how various elements of gender can each be modeled as individual sorites paradoxes such that the overall concept forms a multidimensional paradox. Resolving this dilemma through fuzzy logic provides a novel framework for interpreting gender membership. (shrink)
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 soritesparadox. 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. (shrink)
On some accounts of vagueness, predicates like “is a heap” are tolerant. That is, their correct application tolerates sufficiently small changes in the objects to which they are applied. Of course, such views face the soritesparadox, and various solutions have been proposed. One proposed solution involves banning repeated appeals to tolerance, while affirming tolerance in any individual case. In effect, this solution rejects the reasoning of the sorites argument. This paper discusses a thorny problem afflicting this (...) approach to vagueness. In particular, it is shown that, on the foregoing view, whether an object is a heap will sometimes depend on factors extrinsic to that object, such as whether its components came from other heaps. More generally, the paper raises the issue of how to count heaps in a tolerance-friendly framework. (shrink)
What I hope to show here is that the costs of taking sorites arguments seriously, in particular the costs with respect to hopes for precise replacement are significantly greater than proponents of sorites arguments have estimated.
Sergio Tenenbaum and Diana Raffman contend that ‘vague projects’ motivate radical revisions to orthodox, utility-maximising rational choice theory. Their argument cannot succeed if such projects merely ground instances of the paradox of the sorites, or heap. Tenenbaum and Raffman are not blind to this, and argue that Warren Quinn’s Puzzle of the Self-Torturer does not rest on the sorites. I argue that their argument both fails to generalise to most vague projects, and is ineffective in the case (...) of the Self-Torturer itself. (shrink)
Vagueness does not necessarily come in with vague predicates, nor need it be expressed by them , but undoubtedly 'vague predicates' are traditionally in the focus of main stream discussions of vagueness. In her current modal logic presentation and discussion of the Soritesparadox Susanne Bobzien[1] lists among the properties of a Sorites series a rather weak modal tolerance principle governing the 'grey zone' containing the borderline cases of the Sorites series, which later proves crucial for (...) her solution of the Soritesparadox by use of epistemic interpreted modal operators in 1st order modal logic. We suggest (for different research interest) instead a non-modal description of the switch in the grey zone (respecting tolerance), by resort to similarity sequences, thus getting tangent to two other areas of research in the field. Let's say -any way- the Soritesparadox vanishes, the Sorites series does not. (shrink)
A person with one dollar is poor. If a person with n dollars is poor, then so is a person with n + 1 dollars. Therefore, a person with a billion dollars is poor. True premises, valid reasoning, a false a conclusion. This is an instance of the Sorites-paradox. (There are infinitely many such paradoxes. A man with an IQ of 1 is unintelligent. If a man with an IQ of n is unintelligent, so is a man with (...) an IQ of n+1. Therefore a man with an IQ of 200 is unintelligent.) Most attempts to solve this paradox reject some law of classical logic, usually the law of bivalence. I show that this paradox can be solved while holding on to all the laws of classical logic. Given any predicate that generates a Sorites-paradox, significant use of that predicate is actually elliptical for a relational statement: a significant token of "Bob is poor" means that Bob is poor compared to x, for some value of x. Once a value of x is supplied, a definite cutoff line between having and not having the paradox-generating predicate is supplied. This neutralizes the inductive step in the associated Sorites argument, and the would-be paradox is avoided. (shrink)
John Rawls’s difference principle says that we should change our economy if doing so is better for the worst-off group, on the condition that certain basic rights are secured. This paper presents a kind of case that challenges the principle. If we modify the principle to cope with the challenge, we open the way to a Soritesparadox.
Paradoxes and their Resolutions is a ‘thematic compilation’ by Avi Sion. It collects in one volume the essays that he has written in the past (over a period of some 27 years) on this subject. It comprises expositions and resolutions of many (though not all) ancient and modern paradoxes, including: the Protagoras-Euathlus paradox (Athens, 5th Cent. BCE), the Liar paradox and the Soritesparadox (both attributed to Eubulides of Miletus, 4th Cent. BCE), Russell’s paradox (UK, (...) 1901) and its derivatives the Barber paradox and the Master Catalogue paradox (also by Russell), Grelling’s paradox (Germany, 1908), Hempel's paradox of confirmation (USA, 1940s), and Goodman’s paradox of prediction (USA, 1955). This volume also presents and comments on some of the antinomic discourse found in some Buddhist texts (namely, in Nagarjuna, India, 2nd Cent. CE; and in the Diamond Sutra, date unknown, but probably in an early century CE). (shrink)
One of the hardest problems in philosophy, one that has been around for over two thousand years without generating any significant consensus on its solution, involves the concept of vagueness: a word or concept that doesn't have a perfectly precise meaning. There is an argument that seems to show that the word or concept simply must have a perfectly precise meaning, as violently counterintuitive as that is. Unfortunately, the argument is usually so compressed that it is difficult to see why (...) exactly the problem is so hard to solve. In this article I attempt to explain just why it is that the problem – the soritesparadox – is so intractable.Export citation. (shrink)
Fine (2017) proposes a new logic of vagueness, CL, that promises to provide both a solution to the soritesparadox and a way to avoid the impossibility result from Fine (2008). The present paper presents a challenge to his new theory of vagueness. I argue that the possibility theorem stated in Fine (2017), as well as his solution to the soritesparadox, fail in certain reasonable extensions of the language of CL. More specifically, I show that (...) if we extend the language with any negation operator that obeys reductio ad absurdum, we can prove a new impossibility result that makes the kind of indeterminacy that Fine takes to be a hallmark of vagueness impossible. I show that such negation operators can be conservatively added to CL and examine some of the philosophical consequences of this result. Moreover, I demonstrate that we can define a particular negation operator that behaves exactly like intuitionistic negation in a natural and unobjectionable propositionally quantified extension of CL. Since intuitionistic negation obeys reductio, the new impossibility result holds in this propositionally quantified extension of CL. In addition, the soritesparadox resurfaces for the new negation. (shrink)
In his essay ‘“Wang’s Paradox”’, Crispin Wright proposes a solution to the SoritesParadox (in particular, the form of it he calls the ‘Paradox of Sharp Boundaries’) that involves adopting intuitionistic logic when reasoning with vague predicates. He does not give a semantic theory which accounts for the validity of intuitionistic logic (and the invalidity of stronger logics) in that area. The present essay tentatively makes good the deficiency. By applying a theorem of Tarski, it shows (...) that intuitionistic logic is the strongest logic that may be applied, given certain semantic assumptions about vague predicates. The essay ends with an inconclusive discussion of whether those semantic assumptions should be accepted. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: This paper argues that the so-called paradoxes of higher-order vagueness are the result of a confusion between higher-order vagueness and the distribution of the objects of a Sorites series into extensionally non-overlapping non-empty classes.
Intuitionistic logic provides an elegant solution to the SoritesParadox. Its acceptance has been hampered by two factors. First, the lack of an accepted semantics for languages containing vague terms has led even philosophers sympathetic to intuitionism to complain that no explanation has been given of why intuitionistic logic is the correct logic for such languages. Second, switching from classical to intuitionistic logic, while it may help with the Sorites, does not appear to offer any advantages when (...) dealing with the so-called paradoxes of higher-order vagueness. We offer a proposal that makes strides on both issues. We argue that the intuitionist’s characteristic rejection of any third alethic value alongside true and false is best elaborated by taking the normal modal system S4M to be the sentential logic of the operator ‘it is clearly the case that’. S4M opens the way to an account of higher-order vagueness which avoids the paradoxes that have been thought to infect the notion. S4M is one of the modal counterparts of the intuitionistic sentential calculus and we use this fact to explain why IPC is the correct sentential logic to use when reasoning with vague statements. We also show that our key results go through in an intuitionistic version of S4M. Finally, we deploy our analysis to reply to Timothy Williamson’s objections to intuitionistic treatments of vagueness. (shrink)
Vagueza.Ricardo Santos - 2015 - Compêndio Em Linha de Problemas de Filosofia Analítica.details
Most words in natural language are vague, that is to say, they lack sharp boundaries and, hence, they have (actual or potential) borderline cases, where the word in question neither definitely applies nor definitely fails to apply. Vagueness gives rise to paradoxes, the best known of which is the sorites (concerned with how many grains of sand are needed to make a heap). Besides offering a solution to such paradoxes, a theory of vagueness should systematically describe how the truth (...) conditions of sentences with vague terms are determined; and it should also define the right logical principles for reasoning with such sentences. This article offers an introduction to the main theories of vagueness and to the problems they have to face. (shrink)
This paper demarcates a theoretically interesting class of "evaluational adjectives." This class includes predicates expressing various kinds of normative and epistemic evaluation, such as predicates of personal taste, aesthetic adjectives, moral adjectives, and epistemic adjectives, among others. Evaluational adjectives are distinguished, empirically, in exhibiting phenomena such as discourse-oriented use, felicitous embedding under the attitude verb `find', and sorites-susceptibility in the comparative form. A unified degree-based semantics is developed: What distinguishes evaluational adjectives, semantically, is that they denote context-dependent measure functions (...) ("evaluational perspectives")—context-dependent mappings to degrees of taste, beauty, probability, etc., depending on the adjective. This perspective-sensitivity characterizing the class of evaluational adjectives cannot be assimilated to vagueness, sensitivity to an experiencer argument, or multidimensionality; and it cannot be demarcated in terms of pretheoretic notions of subjectivity, common in the literature. I propose that certain diagnostics for "subjective" expressions be analyzed instead in terms of a precisely specified kind of discourse-oriented use of context-sensitive language. I close by applying the account to `find x PRED' ascriptions. (shrink)
The dissertation has two parts, each dealing with a problem, namely: 1) What is the most adequate account of fuzziness -the so-called phenomenon of vagueness?, and 2) what is the most plausible solution to the sorites, or heap paradox? I will try to show that fuzzy properties are those which are gradual, amenable to be possessed in a greater or smaller extent. Acknowledgement of degrees in the instantiation of a property allows for a gradual transition from one opposite (...) to the other, each intermediate stage constituting an overlap in certain proportion of both contraries. Hence, degrees in the possession of a property give rise to simple contradictions. The reason why I have chosen those two questions is that they provide the main philosophical motivation for a particular brand of an infinite valued and paraconsistent logic. I will claim that Classical logic (CL) is not adequate to handle fuzzy situations, and, being deficient, is in need of being expanded to make room for degrees of truth and weak contradictions. One can hardly deny the importance of the debate, since what is ultimately at stake is what the limits of truth, rationality, intelligibility and possibility are. The main disciplines within which the research moves are the philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, and ontology. (shrink)
In Vagueness and Contradiction (2001), Roy Sorensen defends and extends his epistemic account of vagueness. In the process, he appeals to connections between vagueness and semantic paradox. These appeals come mainly in Chapter 11, where Sorensen offers a solution to what he calls the no-no paradox—a “neglected cousin” of the more famous liar—and attempts to use this solution as a precedent for an epistemic account of the soritesparadox. This strategy is problematic for Sorensen’s project, however, (...) since, as we establish, he fails to resolve the semantic pathology of the no-no paradox. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Recently a bold and admirable interpretation of Chrysippus’ position on the Sorites has been presented, suggesting that Chrysippus offered a solution to the Sorites by (i) taking an epistemicist position1 which (ii) made allowances for higher-order vagueness. In this paper I argue (i) that Chrysippus did not take an epistemicist position, but − if any − a non-epistemic one which denies truth-values to some cases in a Sorites-series, and (ii) that it is uncertain whether and how (...) he made allowances for higher-order vagueness, but if he did, this was not grounded on an epistemicist position. (shrink)
I propose that the meanings of vague expressions render the truth conditions of utterances of sentences containing them sensitive to our interests. For example, 'expensive' is analyzed as meaning 'costs a lot', which in turn is analyzed as meaning 'costs significantly greater than the norm'. Whether a difference is a significant difference depends on what our interests are. Appeal to the proposal is shown to provide an attractive resolution of the soritesparadox that is compatible with classical logic (...) and semantics. (shrink)
One well known approach to the soritical paradoxes is epistemicism, the view that propositions involving vague notions have definite truth values, though it is impossible in principle to know what they are. Recently, Paul Horwich has extended this approach to the liar paradox, arguing that the liar proposition has a truth value, though it is impossible to know which one it is. The main virtue of the epistemicist approach is that it need not reject classical logic, and in particular (...) the unrestricted acceptance of the principle of bivalence and law of excluded middle. Regardless of its success in solving the soritical paradoxes, the epistemicist approach faces a number of independent objections when it is applied to the liar paradox. I argue that the approach does not offer a satisfying, stable response to the paradoxes—not in general, and not for a minimalist about truth like Horwich. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that common sense knowledge survives sophisticated philosophical proofs against it. Recently, however, Bryan Frances (forthcoming) has advanced a philosophical proof that he thinks common sense can’t survive. Exploiting philosophical paradoxes like the Sorites, Frances attempts to show how common sense leads to paradox and therefore that common sense methodology is unstable. In this paper, we show how Frances’s proof fails and then present Frances with a dilemma.
I discuss some problems faced by the meaning‐inconsistency view on the liar and sorites paradoxes which I have elsewhere defended. Most of the discussion is devoted to the question of what a defender of the meaning‐inconsistency view should say about semantic competence.
I show that the Lottery Paradox is just a (probabilistic) Sorites, and argue that this should modify our way of looking at the Paradox itself. In particular, I focus on what I call “the cut-off point problem” and contend that this problem, well known by students of the Sorites, ought to play a key role in the debate on Kyburg’s puzzle.
There is a trade-off between specificity and accuracy in existing models of belief. Descriptions of agents in the tripartite model, which recognizes only three doxastic attitudes—belief, disbelief, and suspension of judgment—are typically accurate, but not sufficiently specific. The orthodox Bayesian model, which requires real-valued credences, is perfectly specific, but often inaccurate: we often lack precise credences. I argue, first, that a popular attempt to fix the Bayesian model by using sets of functions is also inaccurate, since it requires us to (...) have interval-valued credences with perfectly precise endpoints. We can see this problem as analogous to the problem of higher order vagueness. Ultimately, I argue, the only way to avoid these problems is to endorse Insurmountable Unclassifiability. This principle has some surprising and radical consequences. For example, it entails that the trade-off between accuracy and specificity is in-principle unavoidable: sometimes it is simply impossible to characterize an agent’s doxastic state in a way that is both fully accurate and maximally specific. What we can do, however, is improve on both the tripartite and existing Bayesian models. I construct a new model of belief—the minimal model—that allows us to characterize agents with much greater specificity than the tripartite model, and yet which remains, unlike existing Bayesian models, perfectly accurate. (shrink)
What kind of semantics should someone who accepts the epistemicist theory of vagueness defended in Timothy Williamson’s Vagueness (1994) give a definiteness operator? To impose some interesting constraints on acceptable answers to this question, I will assume that the object language also contains a metaphysical necessity operator and a metaphysical actuality operator. I will suggest that the answer is to be found by working within a three-dimensional model theory. I will provide sketches of two ways of extracting an epistemicist semantics (...) from that model theory, one of which I will find to be more plausible than the other. (shrink)
In ‘Towards a Solution to the SoritesParadox’, Graham Priest gives us a new account of the sorites based on fuzzy logic. The novelty lies in the suggestion that truth-value assignments should themselves be treated as fuzzy objects, i.e., objects about which we can make fuzzy identity statements. I argue that Priest’s solution does not have the explanatory force that Priest advocates. That is, it does not explain why we find the existence of a cut-off point counter-intuitive. (...) I also argue that this sort of explanation calls for a general theory that goes beyond the special case of linguistic vagueness, for the phenomenon is at bottom not linguistic. (shrink)
This article argues that resolutions to the soritesparadox offered by epistemic and supervaluation theories fail to adequately account for vagueness. After explaining the paradox, I examine the epistemic theory defended by Timothy Williamson and discuss objections to his semantic argument for vague terms having precise boundaries. I then consider Rosanna Keefe's supervaluationist approach and explain why it fails to accommodate the problem of higher-order vagueness. I conclude by discussing how fuzzy logic may hold the key to (...) resolving the soritesparadox without positing indefensible borders to the correct application of vague terms. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Many philosophers are sceptical about the power of philosophy to refute commonsensical claims. They look at the famous attempts and judge them inconclusive. I prove that even if those famous attempts are failures, there are alternative successful philosophical proofs against commonsensical claims. After presenting the proofs I briefly comment on their significance.
Most descriptions of higher-order vagueness in terms of traditional modal logic generate so-called higher-order vagueness paradoxes. The one that doesn't is problematic otherwise. Consequently, the present trend is toward more complex, non-standard theories. However, there is no need for this.In this paper I introduce a theory of higher-order vagueness that is paradox-free and can be expressed in the first-order extension of a normal modal system that is complete with respect to single-domain Kripke-frame semantics. This is the system QS4M+BF+FIN. It (...) corresponds to the class of transitive, reflexive and final frames. With borderlineness defined logically as usual, it then follows that something is borderline precisely when it is higher-order borderline, and that a predicate is vague precisely when it is higher-order vague.Like Williamson's, the theory proposed here has no clear borderline cases in Sorites sequences. I argue that objections that there must be clear borderline cases ensue from the confusion of two notions of borderlineness—one associated with genuine higher-order vagueness, the other employed to sort objects into categories—and that the higher-order vagueness paradoxes result from superimposing the second notion onto the first. Lastly, I address some further potential objections. (shrink)
This paper deals with higher-order vagueness in Williamson's 'logic of clarity'. Its aim is to prove that for 'fixed margin models' (W,d,α ,[ ]) the notion of higher-order vagueness collapses to second-order vagueness. First, it is shown that fixed margin models can be reformulated in terms of similarity structures (W,~). The relation ~ is assumed to be reflexive and symmetric, but not necessarily transitive. Then, it is shown that the structures (W,~) come along with naturally defined maps h and s (...) that define a Galois connection on the power set PW of W. These maps can be used to define two distinct boundary operators bd and BD on W. The main theorem of the paper states that higher-order vagueness with respect to bd collapses to second-order vagueness. This does not hold for BD, the iterations of which behave in quite an erratic way. In contrast, the operator bd defines a variety of tolerance principles that do not fall prey to the soritesparadox and, moreover, do not always satisfy the principles of positive and negative introspection. (shrink)
This essay provides a novel account of iterated epistemic states. The essay argues that states of epistemic determinacy might be secured by countenancing self-knowledge on the model of fixed points in monadic second-order modal logic, i.e. the modal μ-calculus. Despite the epistemic indeterminacy witnessed by the invalidation of modal axiom 4 in the soritesparadox -- i.e. the KK principle: $\square$$\phi$ $\rightarrow$ $\square$$\square$$\phi$ -- an epistemic interpretation of the Kripke functors of a μ-automaton permits the iterations of the (...) transition functions to entrain a principled means by which to account for necessary conditions on self-knowledge. (shrink)
The nature of vagueness is investigated via a preliminary definition and a discussion of the classical soritesparadox ; this is carried further by asking for the origins of vagueness and a critique of several attempts to remove it from language. It is shown that such attempts are ill motivated and doomed for failure since vagueness is not just a matter of ignorance but firmly grounded in epistemic and metaphysical facts. Finally, the philosophical interest of real vagueness is (...) illustrated by the concept of “natural kind”, which is essential to realism/anti-realism debates. (shrink)
Abstract. The aim of this paper is to present a topological method for constructing discretizations (tessellations) of conceptual spaces. The method works for a class of topological spaces that the Russian mathematician Pavel Alexandroff defined more than 80 years ago. Alexandroff spaces, as they are called today, have many interesting properties that distinguish them from other topological spaces. In particular, they exhibit a 1-1 correspondence between their specialization orders and their topological structures. Recently, a special type of Alexandroff spaces was (...) used by Ian Rumfitt to elucidate the logic of vague concepts in a new way. According to his approach, conceptual spaces such as the color spectrum give rise to classical systems of concepts that have the structure of atomic Boolean algebras. More precisely, concepts are represented as regular open regions of an underlying conceptual space endowed with a topological structure. Something is subsumed under a concept iff it is represented by an element of the conceptual space that is maximally close to the prototypical element p that defines that concept. This topological representation of concepts comes along with a representation of the familiar logical connectives of Aristotelian syllogistics in terms of natural settheoretical operations that characterize regular open interpretations of classical Boolean propositional logic. In the last 20 years, conceptual spaces have become a popular tool of dealing with a variety of problems in the fields of cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics and philosophy, mainly due to the work of Peter Gärdenfors and his collaborators. By using prototypes and metrics of similarity spaces, one obtains geometrical discretizations of conceptual spaces by so-called Voronoi tessellations. These tessellations are extensionally equivalent to topological tessellations that can be constructed for Alexandroff spaces. Thereby, Rumfitt’s and Gärdenfors’s constructions turn out to be special cases of an approach that works for a more general class of spaces, namely, for weakly scattered Alexandroff spaces. This class of spaces provides a convenient framework for conceptual spaces as used in epistemology and related disciplines in general. Alexandroff spaces are useful for elucidating problems related to the logic of vague concepts, in particular they offer a solution of the Soritesparadox (Rumfitt). Further, they provide a semantics for the logic of clearness (Bobzien) that overcomes certain problems of the concept of higher2 order vagueness. Moreover, these spaces help find a natural place for classical syllogistics in the framework of conceptual spaces. The crucial role of order theory for Alexandroff spaces can be used to refine the all-or-nothing distinction between prototypical and nonprototypical stimuli in favor of a more fine-grained gradual distinction between more-orless prototypical elements of conceptual spaces. The greater conceptual flexibility of the topological approach helps avoid some inherent inadequacies of the geometrical approach, for instance, the so-called “thickness problem” (Douven et al.) and problems of selecting a unique metric for similarity spaces. Finally, it is shown that only the Alexandroff account can deal with an issue that is gaining more and more importance for the theory of conceptual spaces, namely, the role that digital conceptual spaces play in the area of artificial intelligence, computer science and related disciplines. Keywords: Conceptual Spaces, Polar Spaces, Alexandroff Spaces, Prototypes, Topological Tessellations, Voronoi Tessellations, Digital Topology. (shrink)
This paper intends to further the understanding of the formal properties of (higher-order) vagueness by connecting theories of (higher-order) vagueness with more recent work in topology. First, we provide a “translation” of Bobzien's account of columnar higher-order vagueness into the logic of topological spaces. Since columnar vagueness is an essential ingredient of her solution to the Soritesparadox, a central problem of any theory of vagueness comes into contact with the modern mathematical theory of topology. Second, Rumfitt’s recent (...) topological reconstruction of Sainsbury’s theory of prototypically defined concepts is shown to lead to the same class of spaces that characterize Bobzien’s account of columnar vagueness, namely, weakly scattered spaces. Rumfitt calls these spaces polar spaces. They turn out to be closely related to Gärdenfors’ conceptual spaces, which have come to play an ever more important role in cognitive science and related disciplines. Finally, Williamson’s “logic of clarity” is explicated in terms of a generalized topology (“locology”) that can be considered an alternative to standard topology. Arguably, locology has some conceptual advantages over topology with respect to the conceptualization of a boundary and a borderline. Moreover, in Williamson’s logic of clarity, vague concepts with respect to a notion of a locologically inspired notion of a “slim boundary” are (stably) columnar. Thus, Williamson’s logic of clarity also exhibits a certain affinity for columnar vagueness. In sum, a topological perspective is useful for a conceptual elucidation and unification of central aspects of a variety of contemporary accounts of vagueness. (shrink)
What the Sorites has to tell us is a simple truth regarding our categories. It appears to saddle us with something other than a simple truth—something worse, a contradiction or a problem or a paradox—only when we insist on viewing it through a discrete logic of categories. Discrete categories and discrete logic are for robots. We aren’t robots, and the simple truth is that we don’t handle categories in the way any discrete logic would demand. For us non-robots, (...) what the Sorites has to offer is a straightforward truth regarding how incapable robots and their logic are of handling categories like ours. (shrink)
It is common to think that what theory of linguistic vagueness is correct has implications for debates in philosophy of law. I disagree. I argue that the implications of particular theories of vagueness on substantive issues of legal theory and practice are less far-reaching than often thought. I focus on four putative implications discussed in the literature concerning (i) the value of vagueness in the law, (ii) the possibility and value of legal indeterminacy, (iii) the possibility of the rule of (...) law, and (iv) strong discretion. I conclude with some methodological remarks. Delineating questions about conventional meaning, the metaphysics/metasemantics of (legal) content determination, and norms of legal interpretation and judicial practice can motivate clearer answers and a more refined understanding of the space of overall theories of vagueness, interpretation, and law. (shrink)
One feature of vague predicates is that, as far as appearances go, they lack sharp application boundaries. I argue that we would not be able to locate boundaries even if vague predicates had sharp boundaries. I do so by developing an idealized cognitive model of a categorization faculty which has mobile and dynamic sortals (`classes', `concepts' or `categories') and formally prove that the degree of precision with which boundaries of such sortals can be located is inversely constrained by their flexibility. (...) Given the literature, it is plausible that we are appropriately like the model. Hence, an inability to locate sharp boundaries is not necessarily because there are none; boundaries could be sharp and it is plausible that we would nevertheless be unable to locate them. (shrink)
Contemporary discussions do not always clearly distinguish two different forms of vagueness. Sometimes focus is on the imprecision of predicates, and sometimes the indefiniteness of statements. The two are intimately related, of course. A predicate is imprecise if there are instances to which it neither definitely applies nor definitely does not apply, instances of which it is neither definitely true nor definitely false. However, indefinite statements will occur in everyday discourse only if speakers in fact apply imprecise predicates to such (...) indefinite instances. (What makes an instance indefinite is, it should be clear, predicate-relative.) The basic issue in the present inquiry is whether this indefiniteness ever really occurs; the basic question is, Why should it ever occur? (shrink)
The Unexpected Hanging Problem is also known as the Surprise Examination Problem. We here solve it by isolating what is logical reasoning from the rest of the human psyche. In a not-so-orthodox analysis, following our tradition (The Liar, Dichotomy, The Sorites and Russell’s Paradox), we talk about the problem from a perspective that is more distant than all the known perspectives. From an observational point that is in much farther than all the observational points used until now, the (...) reader can finally see why the problem has been perpetuated as a problem and can also see that the problem was never an actual problem: Once more, we have an allurement. The allurement this time makes us start paying attention to all the complexity of the human psyche when studying problems that involve human feelings. The main finding could be told to be that we have to understand and study more the human psyche, in all its intricacies, also when dealing with problems that seem to belong with exclusivity to Mathematics or Logic. (shrink)
This issue of The Monist is devoted to the metaphysics of lesser kinds, which is to say those kinds of entity that are not generally recognized as occupying a prominent position in the categorial structure of the world. Why bother? We offer two sorts of reason. The first is methodological. In mathematics, it is common practice to study certain functions (for instance) by considering limit cases: What if x = 0? What if x is larger than any assigned value? Physics, (...) too, often studies the (idealized) initial and boundary conditions of a given system: What would happen in the case of a perfect sphere, or a perfectly black body? In the cognitive sciences, research often thrives on the analysis of cognitive errors, perceptual illusions, brain pathologies. Also in logic one can learn a lot by studying special, anomalous scenarios such as those exhibited by the paradoxes: it is unlikely that we actually find ourselves in a soritical context, or in a liar-like situation, but the fact that we might—or simply the fact that we can conceive of such a possibility—is important enough to deserve careful consideration. In short, the odd, the unfamiliar, the extra-ordinary, the limit cases are perfectly at home in scientific and more broadly intellectual discourse at various levels, where they can be fruitfully engaged in a sophisticated way (witness the existence of specific confining and managing strategies for dealing with them); and they are important precisely because they instruct us concerning the normal, the obvious, and the paradigmatic. The same goes for metaphysics, we submit. Although its major concern is, naturally, with such core entities as substances, properties, or hunks of solid matter, a lot may be learned by paying attention to those limit cases where we find ourselves dealing with entities of much lesser kinds, whether real or putative. (shrink)
This paper presents and motivates a new philosophical and logical approach to truth and semantic paradox. It begins from an inferentialist, and particularly bilateralist, theory of meaning---one which takes meaning to be constituted by assertibility and deniability conditions---and shows how the usual multiple-conclusion sequent calculus for classical logic can be given an inferentialist motivation, leaving classical model theory as of only derivative importance. The paper then uses this theory of meaning to present and motivate a logical system---ST---that conservatively extends (...) classical logic with a fully transparent truth predicate. This system is shown to allow for classical reasoning over the full (truth-involving) vocabulary, but to be non-transitive. Some special cases where transitivity does hold are outlined. ST is also shown to give rise to a familiar sort of model for non-classical logics: Kripke fixed points on the Strong Kleene valuation scheme. Finally, to give a theory of paradoxical sentences, a distinction is drawn between two varieties of assertion and two varieties of denial. On one variety, paradoxical sentences cannot be either asserted or denied; on the other, they must be both asserted and denied. The target theory is compared favourably to more familiar related systems, and some objections are considered. (shrink)
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