Metaphysical Vagueness and Metaphysical Indeterminacy

Metaphysica 14 (2):165-179 (2013)
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Abstract

The topic of this paper is whether there is metaphysical vagueness. It is shown that it is important to distinguish between the general phenomenon of indeterminacy and the more narrow phenomenon of vagueness (the phenomenon that paradigmatically rears its head in sorites reasoning). Relatedly, it is important to distinguish between metaphysical indeterminacy and metaphysical vagueness. One can wish to allow metaphysical indeterminacy but rule out metaphysical vagueness. As is discussed in the paper, central argument against metaphysical vagueness, like those of Gareth Evans and Mark Sainsbury, would if successful rule out metaphysical indeterminacy. One way to argue specifically against the possibility of metaphysical vagueness might be thought to be to argue for a specific theory of the nature of vagueness according to which vagueness is a semantic phenomenon. But it is shown that there are complications also pertaining to arguments with that structure. Toward the end of the paper, I discuss Trenton Merricks’ well-known argument against a semantic view on vagueness and for a metaphysical view.

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Matti Eklund
Uppsala University

Citations of this work

Introduction: Vagueness and Ontology.Geert Keil - 2013 - Metaphysica 14 (2):149-164.
Incoherentism and the Sorites Paradox.Matti Eklund - 2019 - In Sergi Oms & Elia Zardini (eds.), The Sorites Paradox. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
The Nature and Logic of Vagueness.Marian Călborean - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Bucharest
How Many there Are Isn’t.Jonah P. B. Goldwater - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (3):1037-1057.
Abortion Is Neither Right Nor Wrong.Martin Peterson - 2022 - Journal of Value Inquiry 56 (2):219-240.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
Vagueness, truth and logic.Kit Fine - 1975 - Synthese 30 (3-4):265-300.
Can there be vague objects?Gareth Evans - 1978 - Analysis 38 (4):208.
Theory change and the indeterminacy of reference.Hartry Field - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (14):462-481.

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