Metaphysical Vagueness and Metaphysical Indeterminacy
- 874 Downloads
The topic of this paper is whether there is metaphysical vagueness. It is shown that it is important to distinguish between the general phenomenon of indeterminacy and the more narrow phenomenon of vagueness (the phenomenon that paradigmatically rears its head in sorites reasoning). Relatedly, it is important to distinguish between metaphysical indeterminacy and metaphysical vagueness. One can wish to allow metaphysical indeterminacy but rule out metaphysical vagueness. As is discussed in the paper, central argument against metaphysical vagueness, like those of Gareth Evans and Mark Sainsbury, would if successful rule out metaphysical indeterminacy. One way to argue specifically against the possibility of metaphysical vagueness might be thought to be to argue for a specific theory of the nature of vagueness according to which vagueness is a semantic phenomenon. But it is shown that there are complications also pertaining to arguments with that structure. Toward the end of the paper, I discuss Trenton Merricks’ well-known argument against a semantic view on vagueness and for a metaphysical view.
KeywordsMetaphysical indeterminacy Metaphysical vagueness Meaning-inconsistency view Gareth Evans Mark Sainsbury Trenton Merricks
Thanks to an audience at the GAP 8 in Konstanz, September 2012, as well as to Elizabeth Barnes, Ross Cameron and Robbie Williams, for helpful feedback.
- Heller M (1996) Against metaphysical vagueness. Philosophical Perspectives 10: 177–83.Google Scholar
- Lewis D (1986) On the plurality of worlds. Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
- Sainsbury M (1995) Why the world cannot be vague. Southern Journal of Philosophy 33, suppl. vol.: 63–81Google Scholar
- Weatherson B (2010) Vagueness as indeterminacy. In: Dietz R, Moruzzi S (eds) Cuts and clouds: vagueness, its nature and its logic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
- Williamson T (2005) Vagueness in reality. In: Michael Loux and Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford handbook of metaphysics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 690–715.Google Scholar