Contextualism: An Alternative Solution to the Problems of Vagueness
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In thinking about statements like ‘John is bald’, we are often confused as to how to assign truth or falsity. The reason that these statements are so confusing is that they contain vague predicates. Vague predicates are vague because they do not specify all the cases exactly, and so as a result one can have trouble deciphering the truth of statements that contain them. In this paper we will examine the vague predicate, which will lead inevitably to borderline cases. There are two major problems that come from vagueness: the way in which we understand borderline cases and a paradox that threatens any attempt to understand them. To best address these problems, we will examine the two most prevalent theories of vagueness, Epistemicism and Supervaluationism. After having shown that the motivation for these two views is questionable, we will turn to a new idea. This idea will be one that comes from borrowing bits and pieces of plausible ideas to create the beginnings of a Contextualist solution to the problems of vagueness. A The Problems of Vagueness A.1. The Ubiquity of Vagueness So now the question is, what is a vague predicate? Vague predicates are peculiar in that we are not capable of deciphering their exact extensions. Any predicate that describes a property that admits borderline cases is a vague predicate. Given this conception of vague predicates, we must understand the problems that are caused by admitting borderline cases.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2005
- F&M Theses Collection