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Vagueness in Law$
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Timothy A. O. Endicott

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268406

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268406.001.0001

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How Not to Solve the Paradox of the Heap

How Not to Solve the Paradox of the Heap

(p.77) 5 How Not to Solve the Paradox of the Heap
Vagueness in Law


Oxford University Press

This chapter examines higher-order vagueness by pointing out problems that it poses for philosophers of logic who seek to solve the sorites paradox. Various proposed solutions to the sorites paradox face problems with higher-order vagueness. The chapter gives very brief accounts of three such solutions: supervaluation theory, degree theories, and the use of a ‘definiteness’ operator. It also explores whether vagueness is trivial or substantial, and discusses the importance of a little-recognised fact about vagueness: that there may be no clear borderline cases of the application of a vague expression. It concludes by asking whether the sorites paradox can be solved, in Wittgensteinian style, by not asking the question ‘How big is the smallest heap’?.

Keywords:   sorites paradox, higher-order vagueness, logic, supervaluation theory, degree theories, definiteness operator, vague expressions, trivalence

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