Vagueness by Numbers
Keefe (Rosanna)
Source: Mind 107.427, July 1998, pp. 565-579
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. Degree theories of vagueness build on the observation that vague predicates such as "tall" and "red" come in degrees. They employ an infinite-valued logic, where the truth values correspond to degrees of truth and are typically represented by the real numbers in the interval [0, 1].
  2. In this paper, the success with which the numerical assignments of such theories can capture the phenomenon of vagueness is assessed by drawing an analogy with the measurement of various physical quantities using real numbers.
  3. I argue that degree theories of vagueness are undermined by the failure of the necessary connectedness1 principle. Moreover, the semantics for the connectives entail that there must be a uniquely correct numerical assignment for the sentences, and this is implausible.
  4. Different senses of "coming in degrees" are then distinguished; I argue that a confusion between them could be the source of the degree theorist's error, and the distinction illuminates the problem cases described earlier in the paper.

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