Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Reflections on Meaning$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Paul Horwich

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251247

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/019925124X.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 October 2020

The Sharpness of Vague Terms

The Sharpness of Vague Terms

(p.85) 4 The Sharpness of Vague Terms
Reflections on Meaning

Paul Horwich (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

According to the ancient sorites paradox, zero grains of sand is not enough to make a heap, and adding one single grain can never transform a non-heap into a heap, so there can be no heaps of sand! Similar reasoning applies to all vague terms. In view of this problem, some philosophers have suggested that we must modify classical logic (specifically, the law of excluded middle). This chapter argues that there is no need for this, for we should allow that one grain of sand can make the crucial difference, and more generally, that even vague terms have sharp boundaries. This idea is defended by reference to three considerations: (i) the conclusion of Chapter 3, which implies that one should not expect to be able to explain the extension of a predicate in terms of its use; (ii) an identification of what sort of meaning-constituting use-practice would engender the distinctive symptoms of vagueness, namely the existence of ‘borderline cases’ to which it is impossible to know whether the predicate applies; and (iii) a characterization and invocation of the difference between truth and determinate truth.

Keywords:   sorites, vague, classical logic, sharp boundaries, meaning-constituting use, borderline cases, truth, determinate

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .