The vague time of a killing
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The problem of the time of a killing concerns exactly when and where to locate our actions. It is a problem for many of our actions beyond killing, and there are versions of the problem that can be raised no matter where your theory locates actions in particular. To answer the problem, I claim that we should be guided to the referent of ‘the killing’ by examining the definition of ‘to kill.’ Once we have the correct definition, we can see that there are several candidate events that might be the referent of ‘the killing,’ but that the definition does not determine which of them is the referent. So, I argue that it is indeterminate or vague which event is ‘the killing.’ This solution is general across many action verbs, appeals to a minimally controversial type of vagueness, avoids the unintuitive results of views that determinately locate killings, and is compatible with different views about the location of actions. In the concluding section, I show how appealing to vagueness is distinct from and superior to appealing to ambiguity.
KeywordsAction Location Vagueness Time of a killing Ambiguity
I wish to thank John Hawthorne, Gabriel Uzquiano, Kadri Vihvelin, Gary Watson, and James van Cleve for many helpful discussions and comments on this topic.
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