Vagueness is currently the subject of vigorous debate in the philosophy of logic and language. Vague terms—such as 'tall', 'red', 'bald', and 'tadpole'—have borderline cases (arguably, someone may be neither tall nor not tall); and they lack well-defined extensions (there is no sharp boundary between tall people and the rest). The phenomenon of vagueness poses a fundamental challenge to classical logic and semantics, which assumes that propositions are either true or false and that extensions are determinate.
This anthology collects for the first time the most important papers in the field. After a substantial introduction that surveys the field, the essays form four groups, starting with some historically notable pieces. The 1970s saw an explosion of interest in vagueness, and the second group of essays reprints classic papers from this period. The following group of papers represent the best recent work on the logic and semantics of vagueness. The essays in the final group are contributions to the continuing debate about vague objects and vague identity.
“This balanced and comprehensive collection will be a standard reference for many years to come.”
—Alice Kyburg, Computational Linguistics
“Anyone who has the vague sense that they ought to know more about vagueness (potentially anyone working in logic, metaphysics, semantics or the philosophy of language) will find that this collection can definitely bring them up to speed (and then some). The collection seamlessly connects contemporary research with the historical problem of vagueness. Best of all, Keefe and Smith have provided an excellent introduction which his itself worth the price of the book. The resulting collection is an indispensable resource for anyone working in the core areas of philosophy.”
—Peter Ludlow, Associate Professor of Philosophy, SUNY Stony Brook
“This volume contains a well-chosen sample of the best work on vagueness in recent years. It also contains new work of the highest quality.”
—Graeme Forbes, Celia Scott Weatherhead Distinguished Professor, Tulane University
“A timeless collection of classic and recent writings on vagueness, with a very useful introductory overview essay by the editors. The book is an invaluable reference work, and is very well suited as a reader in courses on vagueness.”
—Terry Horgan, Professor Philosophy, University of Memphis
“This timeless anthology provides an inviting first step to anyone interested in the sorites paradox. The issues are developed with an agreeable blend of logic and history. Each step of the dialectic is followed by a yet more interesting step. Consequently, even veterans of vagueness will marvel at how the editors have compressed so much wisdom into only finitely many pages.”
—Roy A. Sorensen, Professor of Philosophy, NYU