When It Is Vague What Is Vague: Identifying Vagueness



What exactly should count as a vague term? The strikingly diverse examples of what is assumed to be vague in the literature reveal that this is, to a large extent, still unclear. It will be argued that this unclarity is a result of the prevalent borderline definition of vagueness. This definition is certainly pictorial but, in most of its formulations, lacks accuracy. The aim of this paper is thus not to solve sorites or to eliminate vagueness but to provide a workable criterion for identifying vague predicates, which seems even more indispensable in law where vagueness implies discretion. While trying to identify vagueness, some light will be shed into the questions of what causes it and how it is to be distinguished from familiar semantic phenomena.


Vagueness Borderline definition Meaning verification Indeterminacy Legal discretion 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Lisbon School of LawLisbonPortugal

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