Advertisement

Metaphysica

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

Introduction: Vagueness and Ontology

  • Geert KeilEmail author
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

References

  1. Akiba K (2004) Vagueness in the World. Noûs 38: 407–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akiba K (ed.) (2013), Vague Objects and Vague Identity. Springer, New York/Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  3. Alston W P (1967) Vagueness. In: Edwards P (ed) Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Macmillan, New York: 218–221.Google Scholar
  4. Barnes E (2010) Ontic Vagueness. A Guide for the Perplexed. Noûs 44: 601–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnes E, Williams J R G (2010) A Theory of Metaphysical Indeterminacy. In: Bennett K, Zimmerman D W (eds) Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Vol. 6. OUP, Oxford: 103–148.Google Scholar
  6. Bittner T, Stell J G (2002) Vagueness and Rough Location. Geoinformatica 6/2: 99–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cappelen H, Hawthorne J (2009) Relativism and Monadic Truth. OUP, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cobreros P, Egré P, Ripley D, van Rooij R (2013) Identity, Leibniz's Law and Non-Transitive Reasoning”. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 253–264.Google Scholar
  9. Dummett M (1975) Wang’s Paradox. In: Keefe R, Smith P (eds.) Vagueness. A Reader. MIT Press, Cambridge/London: 99–118.Google Scholar
  10. Dummett M (1981) The Interpretation of Frege’s Philosophy. Duckworth, London.Google Scholar
  11. Edgington D (2000) Indeterminacy de Re. Philosophical Topics 28: 27–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eklund M (2008) The Picture of Reality as an Amorphous Lump. In: Sider T, Hawthorne J and Zimmerman D W (eds) Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell, Oxford: 382–396.Google Scholar
  13. Eklund M (2013) Metaphysical Vagueness and Metaphysical Indeterminacy. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 165–179.Google Scholar
  14. Evans G (1978) Can There Be Vague Objects? Analysis 38: 208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frege G (1903) The Fundamental Laws of Arithmetic, Vol. II, partial Engl. transl. by P. T. Geach. In Geach P T and Black M (eds) Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. Blackwell, Oxford, 1952.Google Scholar
  16. Furth M (1988) Substance, Form and Psyche. An Aristotelian Metaphysics. CUP, Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Galton A (2003) On the Ontological Status of Geographical Boundaries. In: Duckham M et al. (eds) Foundations of Geographic Information Science. Taylor and Francis, London: 151–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garrett B J (1988) Vagueness and Identity. Analysis 48: 130–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Garrett B J (1991) Vague Identity and Vague Objects. Noûs 25: 341–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Geach P (1980) Reference and Generality. 3rd edition, Cornell Univ. Pr., Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
  21. Grice H P (1989) Studies in the Ways of Words. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge, MA/London.Google Scholar
  22. Hawley K (2001) How Things Persist. OUP, Oxford.Google Scholar
  23. Hyde D (2008) Ontological Vagueness. In his Vagueness, Logic and Ontology. Ashgate, Aldershot: 105–151.Google Scholar
  24. Keil G (2010) Halbglatzen statt Halbwahrheiten. Über Vagheit, Wahrheits- und Auflösungsgrade. In: Grajner M, Rami A (eds) Wahrheit, Bedeutung, Existenz. Ontos, Frankfurt am Main: 57–86.Google Scholar
  25. Lewis D (1986) On the Plurality of Worlds. Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  26. Lewis D (1993) Many, but Almost One. In his Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology. CUP, Cambridge 1999: 164–182.Google Scholar
  27. López de Sa D (2013) Vagueness as Semantic Indecision: Metaphysical Vagueness vs Indeterminate Reference. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 197–209.Google Scholar
  28. Lowe E J (2013) Ontological Vagueness, Existence Monism, and Metaphysical Realism. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 265–274.Google Scholar
  29. Merricks T (2001) Varieties of Vagueness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62: 145–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Morreau M (2002) What Vague Objects are Really Like. Journal of Philosophy 99: 333–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Noonan H W (2011) Identity. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 Edition), http//plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/identity/.
  32. Noonan H W (2013) In Defence of the Sensible Theory of Indeterminacy. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 239–252.Google Scholar
  33. Parsons T (2000) Indeterminate Identity. Metaphysics and Semantics. Clarendon, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Parsons T, Woodruff P (1995) Wordly Indeterminacy of Identity. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95: 171–191.Google Scholar
  35. Quine W V O (1953) From a Logical Point of View. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  36. Quine W V O (1960) Word and Object. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  37. Quine W V O (1976) Whither Physical Objects? Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 39: 497–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Quine W V O (1985) Events and Reification. In: LePore E, McLaughlin B P (eds) Actions and Events. Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Backwell, Oxford/New York: 162–171.Google Scholar
  39. Quine W V O (1987) Quiddities. An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  40. Quine W V O (2000) Quine’s Responses. In: Orenstein A, Kotatko P (eds) Knowledge, Language and Logic. Questions for Quine. Kluwer, Dordrecht/Boston/London Kluwer: 407–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rosen G, Smith N J J (2004) Worldly Indeterminacy. A Rough Guide. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82: 185–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Russell B (1923) Vagueness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy and Psychology 1: 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sainsbury M (1989) What Is a Vague Object? Analysis 49 (3): 99–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sainsbury M (1994) Why the World Could Not Be Vague. Southern Journal of Philosophy 33 (Suppl): 63–81.Google Scholar
  45. Sainsbury M (2013) Lessons for Vagueness from Scrambled Sorites. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 225–237.Google Scholar
  46. Salmon N (2010) Vagaries about Vagueness. In: Dietz R, Moruzzi S (eds) Cuts and Clouds. OUP, Oxford: 131–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sattig T (2010) Many as One. In: Zimmerman D (ed) Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Vol. 5. OUP, Oxford: 145–179.Google Scholar
  48. Sattig T (2013) Vague Objects and the Problem of the Many. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 211–223.Google Scholar
  49. Simons P (2013) Vague Kinds and Biological Nominalism. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 275–282.Google Scholar
  50. Strawson P (1970) Categories. In: Wood O P, Pitcher G (eds) Ryle. A Collection of Critical Essays. Doubleday, New York: 181–211.Google Scholar
  51. Tye M (1990) Vague Objects. Mind 99: 535–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tye M (2000) Vagueness and Reality. Philosophical Topics 28: 195–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Unger P (1979) There Are No Ordinary Things. Synthèse 41: 117–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Unger P (1980) The Problem of the Many. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5: 411–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. van Inwagen P (2009) Indeterminacy and Vagueness Logic and Metaphysics. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (2): 1–19.Google Scholar
  56. Varzi A (2001) Vagueness in Geography. Philosophy & Geography 4: 49–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Weber A (2013) Interrelations and Dissimilarities Between Distinct Approaches to Ontic Vagueness. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14 (2): 181–195.Google Scholar
  58. Williamson T (2003) Vagueness in Reality. In: Loux M J, Zimmerman D W (eds) Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. OUP: Oxford: 690–712.Google Scholar
  59. Zemach E M (1991) Vague Objects. Noûs 25: 323–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PhilosophieHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations