Vagueness: A Reader


"This timely anthology provides an inviting first step to anyone interested in the sorites paradox. The issues are developed with an agreeable blend of logic and history. Each step of the dialectic is followed by a yet more interesting step. Consequently, even veterans of vagueness will marvel at how the editors have compressed so much wisdom into only finitely many pages." -- Roy A. Sorensen, Professor of Philosophy, NYU Vagueness is currently the subject of vigorous debate in the philosophy of logic and language. Vague terms--such as `tall', `red', `bald', and `tadpole'--have borderline cases (arguably, someone may be neither tall nor not tall); and they lack well-defined extensions (there is no sharp boundary between tall people and the rest). So the phenomenon of vagueness poses a fundamental challenge to classical logic and semantics, which assumes that propositions are either true or false and that extensions are determinate. Another striking problem to which vagueness gives rise is the sorites paradox. If you remove one grain from a heap of sand, surely you must be left with a heap. Yet apply this principle repeatedly as you remove grains one by one, and you end up, absurdly, with a solitary grain that counts as a heap. This anthology collects for the first time the most important papers in the area. After a substantial introduction that surveys the field, the essays form four groups, starting with some historically notable pieces. The 1970s saw an explosion of interest in vagueness, and the second group of essays reprints classic papers from this period. The following group of papers represent the best recent work on the logic and semantics of vagueness. The essays in the final group are contributions to the continuing debate about vague objects and vague identity. Contributors include: Max Black, James Cargile, Michael Dummett, Dorothy Edgington, Gareth Evans, Kit Fine, Carl G. Hempel, Rosanna Keefe, David Lewis, Kenton F. Machina, Henryk Mehlberg, Terence Parsons, Bertrand Russell, R. M. Sainsbury, Peter Smith, Michael Tye, Timothy Williamson, Peter Woodruff, Crispin Wright. Vagueness site at NYU.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Peter Smith
  • Rosanna Keefe
  • Diogenes Laertius
  • Galen
  • Cicero
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Cambridge, Mass
Publication year:
  • 1996


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