Vagueness : An Investigation into Natural Languages and the Sorites Paradox

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This work is in two parts. It began as a general investigation of vagueness in natural languages. The Sorites Paradox came to dominate the work however, and the second part of the book consists in an discussion ofthat puzzle and related problems. The first part contains a general discussion ofthe nature ofvagueness and its sources. I discuss various conceptions of vagueness in chapter 1 and outline some of the problems to do with the conception of vagueness as a linguistic phenomenon. The most interesting of these is the Sorites paradox, which occurs where natural languages exhibit a particular variety of borderline case vagueness. I discuss some sources of vagueness of the borderline case variety, and views of the relation between linguistic behaviour and languages which are vague in this sense. I argue in chapter 2 that these problems are not to be easily avoided by statistical averaging techniques or attempts to provide a mathematical model of consensus in linguistic usage. I also consider in chapter 3 various approaches to the problem of providing an adequate logic and semantics for vague natural languages, and argue against two currently popular approaches to vagueness. These are supervaluation accounts which attempt to provide precise semantic models for vague languages based on the notion of specification spaces, and attempts to replace the laws ofclassical logic with systems offuzzy logic.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 202 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 11.68mm | 343g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1991
  • XII, 202 p.
  • 9401055459
  • 9789401055451

Table of contents

I-Puzzles Problems and Paradoxes.- One Conceptions of Vagueness.- 1.1 Frege's Metaphor and The Sorites Paradox.- 1.2 The Vehicle of Vagueness.- 1.3 Something Else to do with Vagueness.- 1.4 Intensional and Extensional Vagueness.- 1.5 Commitments.- 1.6 Fregean Vagueness.- 1.7 The Evidence for Fregean Vagueness.- 2 Linguistic Behaviour.- 2.1 The Myths of Consensus and Determinacy.- 2.2 Statistical Regularities and Semantic Determinacy.- 2.3 Vagueness and Convention.- 2.4 Vagueness and Truth Theory.- 3 Approaches to Vagueness.- 3.1 Borderline Cases, Bivalence and Higher Order Vagueness.- 3.2 Bivalence and Excluded Middle.- 3.3 Vagueness and Logic.- 3.4 Supervaluations.- (a) Specification Spaces.- (b) External Penumbral Connexions and Uncertainty.- (c) Internal Penumbral Connexions and the Sorites.- 3.5 Approaches to Higher Order Vagueness.- (a) Fuzzy Logics.- (b) The Specification Space Approach.- (c) The Generation of Higher Order Vagueness.- II-The Sorites Paradox.- 4 The Paradox.- 4.1 The Incoherence Thesis.- 4.2 Wright's Arguments for Tolerance.- 4.3 Versions of the Paradox.- 4.4 An Empirical Assumption.- 4.5 Dummett's View of the Paradox.- 4.6 Ad Hoc Stipulation and Inconsistent Rules.- 4.7 Causal Explanations of Consistency.- 4.8 Wright's Conclusions.- 5 Responses to the Paradox.- 5.1 The Elimination of Vagueness.- 5.2 Ideal Languages, Logic and Precision.- 5.3 Rejecting Common Sense.- 5.4 Rejecting the Induction Step.- 5.5 Rejecting the Principles of Classical Logic.- 5.6 Austerity Measures.- 5.7 Paradigm Exemplars and Knowledge of Tolerance Rules.- 5.8 Vagueness and Contextual Disambiguation.- 6 A Solution to the Paradox.- 6.1 Tolerance Principles and Pure Observationality.- 6.2 Counter-examples to Tolerance.- 6.3 A Reply, and a Review of the Nature of the Sorites Series.- 6.4 Revising Tolerance Rules.- 6.5 A Way Out of the Paradox.- 6.6 Strict and Loose Tolerance Rules.- 6.7 A Parallel with the Grue Paradox.- 7 Further Problems and Puzzles.- 7.1 Is Indiscernibility Tolerant?.- 7.2 Is Indiscernibility Vague?.- 7.3 Inconsistency without Paradox.- 7.4 Patches in Pairs.- 7.5 The Size of the Difference.- 7.6 A Review of the Criteria of Justification.- 7.7 Conceptual and Metaphysical Miracles.- 7.8 Vagueness and Pure Observationality.- 8 Vagueness and Perception.- 8.1 A Puzzle about Perception.- 8.2 Phenomenal Qualities and Observational Predicates.- 8.3 Change of Aspect.- 8.4 Tolerance and Observationality.- 8.5 Vagueness in Perception.- 9 Conclusions.- 9.1 The Induction Step and Continua in Nature.- 9.2 The Existence of Fregean Vagueness.- 9.3 Constraints on Observer and Theorist.- 9.4 Fregean Vagueness, Loose Tolerance Rules and Undecidability.- 9.5 Vagueness as a Pragmatic Phenomenon.- 9.6 Tolerance and the Actual Language Relation.- 9.7 Bivalence, Vagueness and Truth.- 9.8 Vagueness in Language and in Psychological Phenomena.- 9.9 Vagueness, Precision and Context-Dependence.- 9.10 Classification Ranges.
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