Vagueness as Indeterminacy

Brian James Weatherson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

14 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter argues that a term is vague if it is indeterminate. As a special case of this, it argues that a predicate is vague if it has borderline cases. This was until recently the standard account of vagueness, but it has become quickly unpopular. A common objection has been that indeterminate terms with clearly demarcated boundaries of indeterminacy are not vague, and that it is better to identify vagueness in predicates with some kind of Sorites-sensitivity. Proposals of how to do this have been offered by Matti Eklund, Patrick Greenough, and Nicholas J. J. Smith. The chapter argues that this was a step backwards for several reasons. Some vague predicates are not Sorites-sensitive. And non-predicates are not Sorites-sensitive, although they can be vague. Moreover, if we have an epistemic understanding of the Sorites, then we will end up classifying some non-vague terms as vague, unless we assume that speakers know much more about the metaphysics underlying their language than they actually do.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCuts and Clouds
Subtitle of host publicationVaguenesss, its Nature and its Logic
EditorsRichard Dietz, Sebastiano Moruzzi
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780199570386, 0199570388
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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