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Cuts and CloudsVagueness, its Nature, & its Logic$
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Richard Dietz and Sebastiano Moruzzi

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570386

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570386.001.0001

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Vagueness as Semantic

Vagueness as Semantic

(p.304) 17 Vagueness as Semantic
Cuts and Clouds

Max Kölbel

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that vagueness, understood as a semantic phenomenon, can be accommodated within standard semantics by assimilating it to contingency in standard modal semantics and suitably modifying the pragmatics. It claims that vague predicates are not defective, assumes that their vagueness involves at least extensional indeterminacy, and then considers the three ways in which standard semantics allows for extensional indeterminacy: ambiguity, indexicality, and relativity to circumstances of evaluation (e.g. contingency). The third of these is found to be most promising, and is outlined in more detail. It involves treating assertability, but not truth, supervaluationally. This explains the seductiveness of Sorites arguments and yields a fine account of borderline cases. The chapter concludes with a brief consideration of higher-order vagueness and a comparison of the view outlined with other views.

Keywords:   semantic vagueness, extensional indeterminacy, intentional semantics, supervaluationism, assertion, supertruth

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