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Type: Thesis
Title: Vindicating Vague Objects
Author: Lazarou, Michael
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : Philosophy
Abstract: Until recently, vagueness has been seen as a product of representation alone; a byproduct of the limitations of our language or our ability to know the truth. To endorse the contrasting idea that vagueness can come from the world – and to endorse the existence of vague objects – has often been a maligned enterprise. Indeed, proponents of the view have been charged with mistaking features of the world for features of our language or minds, mistaking a question of language and epistemology for a question of metaphysics. Further, even granting the plausibility of such a view, the thesis that vague objects can exist has been laden with commitment to problematic notions such as vague identity and vague existence. This thesis examines the prospects of defending the idea that vague objects exist, vindicating the cogency of such a view and decoupling it from these problematic notions. Chapter 1 begins by examining Gareth Evans’ seminal reductio against vague objects, in which the existence of vague objects is tied to the fate of vague identity. Engaging with the literature that Evans’ paper generated, we show that vague objects need not be committed to a contradictory notion of vague identity; rather, one can defend an account of vague objects without the need for revisionary logics or gerrymandered notions of identity. Chapter 2 extends the investigation of vague objects by considering the Problem of the Many, a powerful paradox which appears to undermine seemingly well-founded mereological principles and intuitions. After evaluating existing solutions to the problem, we show how vague objects can be used to develop a novel solution that is couched within the logical apparatus defended in Chapter 1. We then demonstrate how the novel solution offers a fruitful means of responding to the problem while retaining desired mereological principles. Chapter 3 draws on the discussion in the preceding chapters to defend the cogency of vague objects in the context of contemporary views of metaphysical vagueness. Specifically, we show that defending the existence of vague objects has genuine utility for supporting a defence of the intelligibility of metaphysical vagueness. We end with a brief examination of the prospects of extending the novel account of vague objects developed, and consider how this view may be applied to future investigations in metaphysics.
Advisor: Eagle, Antony
Cullity, Garrett
Dissertation Note: Thesis (MPhil) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2019
Keywords: Vagueness
Vague objects
problem of the many
vague identity
metaphysical indeterminacy
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