Multiple Reference and Vague Objects



Merlo G (2017) Multiple Reference and Vague Objects. Synthese, 194 (7), pp. 2645-2666.

Kilimanjaro is an example of what some philosophers would call a 'vague object': it is only roughly 5895 m tall, its weight is not precise and its boundaries are fuzzy because some particles are neither determinately part of it nor determinately not part of it. It has been suggested that this vagueness arises as a result of semantic indecision: it is because we didn’t make up our mind what the expression "Kilimanjaro" applies to that we can truthfully say such things as "It is indeterminate whether this particle is part of Kilimanjaro". After reviewing some of the limitations of this approach, I will propose an alternative account, based on a new semantic relation—multiple reference—capable of holding in a one-many pattern between a term and several objects in the domain. I will explain how multiple reference works, what differentiates it from plural reference and how it might be used to accommodate at least some aspects of our ordinary discourse about vague objects

Vague objects; Supervaluationism; Plural reference; Multiple reference

Synthese: Volume 194, Issue 7

Publication date31/07/2017
Publication date online05/04/2016
Date accepted by journal21/03/2016
eISSN 1573-0964