, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 149–164 | Cite as

Introduction: Vagueness and Ontology

  • Geert KeilEmail author


The article introduces a special issue of the journal Metaphysica on vagueness and ontology. The conventional view has it that all vagueness is semantic or representational. Russell, Dummett, Evans and Lewis, inter alia, have argued that the notion of “ontic” or “metaphysical” vagueness is not even intelligible. In recent years, a growing minority of philosophers have tried to make sense of the notion and have spelled it out in various ways. The article gives an overview and relates the idea of ontic vagueness to the unquestioned phenomenon of fuzzy spatiotemporal boundaries and to the associated “problem of the many”. It briefly discusses the question of whether ontic vagueness can be spelled out in terms of “vague identity”, emphasizes the often neglected role of the difference between sortal and non-sortal ontologies and suggests a deflationary answer to the ill-conceived question of whether the “ultimate source” of vagueness lies either in language or in the world.


Ontic vagueness Vague identity Problem of the many Spatiotemporal boundaries Sortal concepts 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PhilosophieHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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