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Sorensen, R. (1997). Vagueness. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. October 3, 2017, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/vagueness/.
Added by: Mark Grimshaw (03 Oct 2017 13:56:08 Europe/Copenhagen)
|Resource type: Web Encyclopedia Article
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 1095-5054
BibTeX citation key: Sorensen1997
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Keywords: Ambiguity, Vagueness
Publisher: Stanford University (Standford)
Collection: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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|URLs https://plato.stan ... entries/vagueness/|
"There is wide agreement that a term is vague to the extent that it has borderline cases. This makes the notion of a borderline case crucial in accounts of vagueness. I shall concentrate on an historical characterization of borderline cases that most commentators would accept. Vagueness will then be contrasted with ambiguity and generality. This will clarify the nature of the philosophical challenge posed by vagueness. I will then discuss some rival theories of vagueness with an emphasis on many-valued logic, supervaluationism and contextualism. I will conclude with the issue of whether all vagueness is linguistic."
"Vagueness is standardly defined as the possession of borderline cases. For example, ‘tall’ is vague because a man who is 1.8 meters in height is neither clearly tall nor clearly non-tall. No amount of conceptual analysis or empirical investigation can settle whether a 1.8 meter man is tall. Borderline cases are inquiry resistant. Indeed, the inquiry resistance typically recurses. For in addition to the unclarity of the borderline case, there is normally unclarity as to where the unclarity begins. In other words ‘borderline case’ has borderline cases. This higher order vagueness seems to show that ‘vague’ is vague."
Added by: Mark Grimshaw
Keywords: Ambiguity Vagueness
"Every natural language is both vague and ambiguous. However, both features seem eliminable. Indeed, both are eliminated in miniature languages such as checkers notation, computer programming languages, and mathematical descriptions. Moreover, it seems that both vagueness and ambiguity ought to be minimized. ‘Vague’ and ‘ambiguous’ are pejorative terms. And they deserve their bad reputations. Think of all the automotive misery that has been prefaced by
Driver: Do I turn left?
English can be lethal. Philosophers have long motivated appeals for an ideal language by pointing out how ambiguity creates the menace of equivocation:
No child should work.
Happily, we know how to criticize and correct all equivocations. Indeed, every natural language is self-disambiguating in the sense that each has all the resources needed to uniquely specify any reading one desires. Ambiguity is often the cause but rarely the object of philosophical rumination."Added by: Mark Grimshaw
Keywords: Ambiguity Vagueness
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