'Vague' at Higher Orders

October 2017
Mind;Oct2017, Vol. 126 Issue 504, p1189
Academic Journal
Sorensen (1985) has argued that one can exploit the vagueness of an ordinary predicate like 'small' to induce a sort of vagueness in 'vague', by constructing a series of predicates of the form 'n-small', where x is n-small if and only if x is small or x < n. The resulting 'Sorensen'ed' predicates present a Sorites case for 'vague' ('1-small' is vague; if 'n-small' is vague, so is 'n+1-small'; therefore, '106-small' is vague); hence the vagueness of 'vague'. Hyde (1994) argues that this demonstrates that all vague predicates are higher-order vague. Others doubt whether Sorensen's series really delivers such a result, claiming Hyde's argument to be either: unsound, because it misidentifies the true source of vagueness in Sorensen's Sorites (Deas 1989, Hull 2005); invalid, because it fails to generalize to all vague predicates (Tye 1994); or circular, because it presupposes the very thing it tries to prove, namely, higher-order vagueness (Varzi 2003, 2005). This paper contributes to the Sorensen-Hyde vs. Tye-Deas-Hull-Varzi debate by clarifying the relations between vague vagueness and higher-order vagueness. I show how claims of higher-order vagueness are derivable from claims of vague vagueness (but not vice versa). This is the missing piece needed to complete Hyde's argument and overcome the objections presented by Deas, Hull, Tye, and Varzi. I then show how Sorensen's considerations, once properly generalized, pose more far-reaching consequences about the vagueness of 'vague' than either defenders or critics of Hyde's argument have appreciated.


Related Articles

  • Epistemicism and the Problem of Arbitrariness for Vagueness. Kyle, Christopher D. // Dialogue (00122246);Oct2012, Vol. 55 Issue 1, p54 

    This paper evaluates the ability of epistemicism to solve problems of vagueness and argues that it cannot account for the existence of precise definitions that elude our knowledge. After recounting the historical formulation of the sorites paradox, I argue that the central difficulty in...

  • On vagueness, sorites, and Putnam's `intuitionistic strategy.' Chambers, Timothy // Monist;Apr98, Vol. 81 Issue 2, p343 

    Opinion. Studies sorites paradox and vagueness, focusing on the introduction of Hilary Putnam's `intuitionistic strategy.' Suggestion made from Putnam on his `intuitionistic strategy'; Reference to Crispin Wrights studies of sorites paradoxes; Wright's explanation for the linking of sorites...

  • The buried quantifier: an account of vagueness and the sorites. Grim, Patrick // Analysis;Apr2005, Vol. 65 Issue 2, p95 

    The article presents an account of vagueness and the sorites. Contrary to the great bulk of philosophical work on vagueness, the core of vagueness is not to be found in vague monadic predicates such as "bald", "tall", or "old." The true source of vagueness lies beneath these, in a mechanism...

  • IDENTITY PARADOXES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO SORITES PARADOXES. ANGELOVA, DOROTEYA // Philosophical Alternatives Journal / Filosofski Alternativi;2013, Vol. 22 Issue 6, p70 

    The article discusses Priest's non-transitive paraconsistent approach to identity paradoxes and sorites paradoxes, and presents the advantages of the approach. One of the article’s focuses is why transitivity should be preferred instead of Modus Ponens in modeling sorites and identity...

  • Reflections on 'Wang's Paradox'. Burgess, John // Teorema;2013, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p125 

    In this paper, I shall try to spell out what I take the principal general morals of Michael Dummett's 'Wang's Paradox' to be, not as Dummett himself saw them, but as I see them several decades later. I draw two main conclusions. (C1): Meaning should not be represented as propositional knowledge...

  • VAGUENESS. Akman, Varol // Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy;2006, Vol. 4, p3260 

    An encyclopedia entry for the term "vagueness," is presented. The term refers to the quality or condition of being vague. It can also be referred to as the lack of distinctness or preciseness. Hence, it is assumed that high-order vagueness is assumed to receive considerable attention and...

  • Vagueness and 'Vague': A Reply to Varzi. Hull, Gerald // Mind;Jul2005, Vol. 114 Issue 455, p689 

    Varzi (2003) has recently joined a thread of arguments originating in an attempt by Sorensen (1985) to demonstrate that the predicate ‘vague’ is itself vague. Sorensen's conclusion is significant in that it has provided the basis for a subsequent effort by Hyde (1994) to defend the...

  • Recent Work on Vagueness. Eklund, Matti // Analysis;Apr2011, Vol. 71 Issue 2, p352 

    The author discusses different versions of vagueness. He notes that there are different versions of the sorites paradox because of vagueness in a key expression and one prominent concern in the literature on vagueness is finding a solution to the sorites paradox. He presents three main theories...

  • Referential/attributive: a scope interpretation. Mendelsohn, Richard L. // Philosophical Studies;Jan2010, Vol. 147 Issue 2, p167 

    There is a core to the referential/attributive distinction that reveals a propositional ambiguity that is scope-related and rooted in syntax.

  • Vagueness and endurance. Lowe, E. J. // Analysis;Apr2005, Vol. 65 Issue 2, p104 

    The article discusses vagueness and endurance. A number of philosophers have argued recently that perdurance accounts of persistence can handle problems of vagueness more satisfactorily than endurance accounts are able to, and that this is an important and perhaps even decisive consideration in...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics