A modal argument against vague objects

Philosophers' Imprint 8:1-17 (2008)
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Abstract

There has been much discussion of whether there could be objects A and B that are “individuatively vague” in the following way: object A and object B neither determinately stand in the relation of identity to one another, nor do they determinately fail to stand in this relation. If there are objects of this type, then we would have a genuine case of metaphysical vagueness, or “vagueness-in-the-world.” The possibility of vague objects in this sense strikes many as incoherent. The possibility’s very description not only seems to talk of two objects but, much worse, it seems to point to a feature that distinguishes them: unlike object A, object B is not determinately identical to object A. This suspicion of incoherence is voiced in the famous arguments given against the possibility by Gareth Evans and Nathan Salmon. But the status of those arguments and others is uncertain. Here I present a new argument against vague objects — or more precisely, against the possibility of individuatively vague objects that satisfy an important and common additional condition that I will call “Democracy.” Since my argument turns on a connection between what is indeterminate and what is possible, I call it “the modal argument.”.

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