Philosophical Studies

, Volume 161, Issue 2, pp 273–285 | Cite as

Semantic plasticity and epistemicism



This paper considers the connections between semantic shiftiness (plasticity), epistemic safety and an epistemic theory of vagueness as presented and defended by Williamson (1996a, b, 1997a, b). Williamson explains ignorance of the precise intension of vague words as rooted in insensitivity to semantic shifts: one’s inability to detect small shifts in intension for a vague word results in a lack of knowledge of the word’s intension. Williamson’s explanation, however, falls short of accounting for ignorance of intension.


Vagueness Plasticity Epistemicism 



Thanks to David Chalmers, Sam Cumming, Greg D’amico, Michael Glanzberg, Robbie Hirsch, Mandana Kamanger, Ernest Lepore, Timothy Williamson and an audience at Rutgers University for comments and advice on various parts of this paper. Extra gratitude is due to Stewart Cohen, Cody Gilmore, John Hawthorne, Daniel Nolan and Jonathan Weisberg for providing excellent advice and suggestions on various drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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