Vagueness

A Reader

Edited by Rosanna Kenney and Peter Smith

A Bradford Book

Overview

Author(s)

Praise

Summary

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. Another striking problem to which vagueness gives rise is the sorites paradox. If you remove one grain from a heap of sand, surely you must be left with a heap. Yet apply this principle repeatedly as you remove grains one by one, and you end up, absurdly, with a solitary grain that counts as a heap.

This anthology collects papers in the field. After an 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 current 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.

Hardcover

Out of Print ISBN: 9780262112253 363 pp. |

Editors

Rosanna Kenney

Rosanna Keefe is a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge University

Peter Smith

Peter Smith is a member of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge.

Reviews

  • 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