It has received a resurgence of attention since 1975, when three papers published in Synthese effectively conceived the contemporary study of vagueness. The problem posed by vagueness is to explain its particular kind of indeterminacy.


Consider Peter Unger's example of a cloud (from his famous 1980 paper, "The Problem of the Many"): it is not clear where the boundary of a cloud lies; for any given bit of water vapor, one can ask whether it is part of the cloud or not, and for many such bits, one won't know how to answer.


A standard form of this paradox features a 2000-man sequence of progressively taller men, starting with a paradigm case of a short man at one extreme and at the other extreme, a paradigm case of a tall one. Base step: Man 1 is short. Induction step: If man n is short, then man n + 1 is short. Conclusion: Man 2000 is short. Sorites paradoxes exploit the intuition that some vague predicates are tolerant with respect to small enough differences on a dimension decisive of their application.


Not Exactly: In Praise of Vagueness (Oxford University Press; 368 pages; 2010).


Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science, Springer, Dordrecht, 2011. == External links == Epistemology Semantics Fuzzy logic Ambiguity Philosophy of language Homonymy

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