Either epistemicism or logic

Piotr Łukowski

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/LLP.2008.019


Epistemicism seems to be the most dominating approach to vagueness in the recent twenty years. In the logical and philosophical tradition, e.g. Peirce, vagueness does not depend on human knowledge. Epistemicists deny this fact and contend that vagueness is merely the result of our imperfect mind, our dearth of knowledge, sort of phantom, finally, that it simply does not exist. In my opinion, such a stance not only excludes vagueness comprehended in terms of human knowledge, but which is worse, stems from spurious logical arguments. The part of arguments called Sorensen’s Arguments or even Proofs were the subject of my analysis in the book Paradoksy (2006; in Polish) and in the paper “Epistemicism and Roy Sorensen Arguments” published in the Bulletin of the Section of Logic (2007). Here I shall only briefly refer to these works and focus mainly on the arguments launched by Tymothy Williamson. One of them is to uncover why we are not able to recognize the alleged sharp boundary between positive and negative extensions of any vague predicates. Williamson’s reasoning is based on his margin for error principle. Another argumentation of Williamson aims at the refutation of the principle I know that I know. It should be emphasized that all the aforementioned arguments are fundamental for epistemicism and all of them are fallacious because of either formal or false-premise fallacy. There is the circumstance that we cannot deem epistemicism logical. Finally, we show that within the epistemic frame the following thesis is valid: if what epistemicism states is the case, then what epistemicism states is not the case. This immediately implies (by ‘(p → ¬p) → ¬p’) that it is not the case what epistemicism states. So, either epistemicism or logic.


vagueness; sorites; tolerant predicate; epistemicism; petitio principi; logical falacies

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ISSN: 1425-3305 (print version)

ISSN: 2300-9802 (electronic version)

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