Vagueness, Measurement, and Blurriness
Sorensen (Roy)
Source: Synthese, Vol. 75, No. 1 (Apr., 1988), pp. 45-82
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. My thesis is that the sorites1 paradox can be resolved by viewing vagueness as a type of irremediable ignorance.
  2. I begin by showing that the paradox cannot be solved through restrictions, revisions, or rejection of either classical logic or common sense.
  3. I take the key issue raised by the sorites2 to be "limited sensitivity": are there changes too small to ever affect the applicability of a vague predicate?
  4. I argue that the only consistent answer is negative, and blame our tendency to think otherwise on a fallacious proportionality principle and a background of anti-realist theories of meaning.
  5. These theories of meaning encourage the view that perceptual, pedagogical, and memory limits would preclude unlimited sensitivity.
  6. Refutation of this view comes in the form of a reduction of vague predicates to "blurry" predicates.
  7. Since blurry predicates have unlimited sensitivity and are indistinguishable from their vague counterparts, I conclude that either vague predicates are dispensable or they are identical to blurry predicates.

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