Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (1):1 - 45 (2007)

Abstract
This paper investigates the way that linguistic expressions influence vagueness, focusing on the interpretation of the positive (unmarked) form of gradable adjectives. I begin by developing a semantic analysis of the positive form of ‘relative’ gradable adjectives, expanding on previous proposals by further motivating a semantic basis for vagueness and by precisely identifying and characterizing the division of labor between the compositional and contextual aspects of its interpretation. I then introduce a challenge to the analysis from the class of ‘absolute’ gradable adjectives: adjectives that are demonstrably gradable, but which have positive forms that relate objects to maximal or minimal degrees, and do not give rise to vagueness. I argue that the truth conditional difference between relative and absolute adjectives in the positive form stems from the interaction of lexical semantic properties of gradable adjectives—the structure of the scales they use—and a general constraint on interpretive economy that requires truth conditions to be computed on the basis of conventional meaning to the extent possible, allowing for context dependent truth conditions only as a last resort.
Keywords Vagueness  Gradability  Context sensitivity  Borderline cases  Sorites Paradox  Comparison class  Scale structure
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10988-006-9008-0
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,079
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - London and New York: Routledge.
Philosophical Papers.J. L. Austin - 1961 - Oxford University Press.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism.Peter K. Unger - 1975 - Oxford University Press.

View all 54 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Scalar Consequentialism the Right Way.Neil Sinhababu - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3131-3144.
Which Concepts Should We Use?: Metalinguistic Negotiations and The Methodology of Philosophy.David Plunkett - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):828-874.
Context, Content, and Relativism.Michael Glanzberg - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (1):1--29.
Vagueness in Context.Stewart Shapiro - 2006 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press UK.

View all 201 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
368 ( #27,661 of 2,506,031 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #81,150 of 2,506,031 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes