Philosophy 290-3

Spring 2018

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-3 Graduate Seminar: Vagueness, Truth, and Meaning MacFarlane Tu 4-6 Moses 234

In this seminar we will consider whether vagueness poses a fundamental challenge to the dominant framework for natural language semantics, truth-conditional semantics. We will begin by discussing the aims and methods of truth-conditional semantics, and the role it is supposed to play in explaining the use of language in communication and thought. We will then consider how vagueness can be accommodated in this framework. We will consider the view that vagueness poses no special problems, as well as several quite different proposals for modifying semantics or pragmatics to make room for vagueness. While much prior work on vagueness considers it from the point of view of logic and metaphysics, we will be looking at it as philosophers of language, asking in particular what a theory of meaning must look like if it is to explain how we communicate as we do using vague language.