Vague Objects with Sharp Boundaries


  • I am very grateful to Fabrice Correia, Jean-Roch Lauper, and Baptiste Le Bihan for comments and suggestions that helped me to improve parts of this article.


In this article I shall consider two seemingly contradictory claims: first, the claim that everybody who thinks that there are ordinary objects has to accept that they are vague, and second, the claim that everybody has to accept the existence of sharp boundaries to ordinary objects. The purpose of this article is of course not to defend a contradiction. Indeed, there is no contradiction because the two claims do not concern the same ‘everybody’. The first claim, that all ordinary objects are vague, is a claim that stems both from common sense intuitions as well as from various types of ontologies of ordinary objects. This puts then pressure on theories of vagueness to account for the vague nature of ordinary objects – but, as we shall see, all theories of vagueness have to accept the existence of sharp thresholds. This is obvious in the case of epistemicism, and it is a well-known defect of supervaluationism, but as we will see friends of metaphysical vagueness do have to endorse the existence of sharp thresholds in their theory as well. Consequently, there are reasons for dissatisfaction with these accounts, since they do not seem to be able to do the job we asked them to do.