Course details

8.3550

Vagueness

S
WS 2022 Prof. Dr. phil. Sven Walter OFFLINE
2h/wk
4 ECTS
B.Sc modules:
CS-BWP-PHIL - Philosophy for Cognitive Science
KOGW-WPM-PHIL - Philosophy of Mind and Cognition
M.Sc modules:
CS-MWP-PHIL - Philosophy for Cognitive Science

CS-BW - Bachelor elective course
CS-MW - Master elective course
Thu: 16-18

' x is a prime number' is a sharp predicate: for all x, either x is a prime number or not. 'x is tall', in contrast, is a vague predicate: if Alex is five foot she is definitely not tall, if Alex is seven foot she is definitely tall, but if Alex is six foot two she is a borderline case of vagueness -- she is neither definitely tall nor definitely not tall. Vague predicates create problems in many areas, for instance in logic (if Alex is neither definitely tall nor definitely not tall, then it is not the case that either "Alex is tall" or "Alex is not tall" is true, which violates the principle of bivalence definitive of standard logic), in philosophy (if 'F' is a vague predicate, one can construct a sorites paradox, a valid argument based on true premises with an absurd conclusion), metaphysics (might the world itself be vague?), and linguistics (can we/must we include in our grammar a kind of 'fuzzy' interval surrounding the obvious cases?). In the seminar, we'll tackle all the four issues just mentioned.