Hold the context fixed, vagueness still remains

In Richard Dietz & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Cuts and clouds: vagueness, its nature, and its logic. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 275--88 (2010)
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Contextualism about vagueness (hereafter ‘Contextualism’) is the view that vagueness consists in a particular species of context-sensitivity and that properly accommodating this fact into our semantic theory will yield a plausible solution to the sorites paradox.[1],[2] But Contextualism, as many commentators have noted, faces the following immediate objection: if we hold the context fixed, vagueness still remains, therefore vagueness is not a species of context-sensitivity. Call this ‘the simple objection’.[3] Absent a convincing reply to the simple objection, Contextualism is in very bad shape. Oddly enough, defenders of Contextualism have said very little in reply. Proponents of the objection have tended to assume that this is because no reply is in the offing—the simple objection is taken to be unassailable. In this short paper, we sketch two replies to the simple objection which result in two very different kinds of Contextualism: Epistemicist Contextualism and Radical Contextualism. With these two theories in hand, the simple objection loses its force.



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Patrick Greenough
University of St. Andrews

Citations of this work

A Plea for Semantic Localism.Agustín Rayo - 2011 - Noûs 47 (4):647-679.
Sorites paradox.Dominic Hyde - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Contextualist Theories of Vagueness.Jonas Åkerman - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (7):470-480.
Sorites Paradox.Dominic Hyde & Diana Raffman - 2012 - In Ed Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Epistemicism, paradox, and conditional obligation.Ivan Hu - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2123-2139.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1996 - New York: Routledge.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):452-458.
Scorekeeping in a language game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.

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