Vagueness by Numbers? No Worries
Smith (Nicholas J.J.)
Source: Mind - 112/446 (April 2003)
Paper - Abstract

Paper Summary


Philosophers Index Abstract

    Rosanna Keefe ("Vagueness by Numbers" Mind 107, 1998, pp. 565-579) argues that theories of vagueness based upon fuzzy logic and set theory rest on a confusion: once we have assigned a number to an object to represent (for example) its height, there is no distinct purpose left to be served by assigning a number to the object to represent its degree of tallness; she claims that "any numbers assigned in an attempt to capture the vagueness of 'tall' do no more than serve as another measure of height." In this paper I defend fuzzy theories of vagueness against Keefe's attack. I show that the numbers that we assign to objects to measure (for example) heights serve a quite distinct purpose from the numbers that fuzzy theories of vagueness assign to objects to measure degrees of tallness: the two sorts of assignment are both formally and conceptually distinct; the fuzzy approach to vagueness is well-motivated and free of confusion.

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