, Volume 180, Issue 3, pp 317–335

In defense of true higher-order vagueness


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-009-9704-8

Cite this article as:
Bobzien, S. Synthese (2011) 180: 317. doi:10.1007/s11229-009-9704-8


Stewart Shapiro recently argued that there is no higher-order vagueness. More specifically, his thesis is: (ST) ‘So-called second-order vagueness in ‘F’ is nothing but first-order vagueness in the phrase ‘competent speaker of English’ or ‘competent user of “F”’. Shapiro bases (ST) on a description of the phenomenon of higher-order vagueness and two accounts of ‘borderline case’ and provides several arguments in its support. We present the phenomenon (as Shapiro describes it) and the accounts; then discuss Shapiro’s arguments, arguing that none is compelling. Lastly, we introduce the account of vagueness Shapiro would have obtained had he retained compositionality and show that it entails true higher-order.


VaguenessHigher-order vaguenessContextualismQualified individuals

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA