Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

David Barnett

Second Advisor

Graham Oddie

Third Advisor

Michael Tooley


How can we tell whether a concept is vague? Is it possible to generate reliable methods for demonstrating vagueness and clearness without having an analysis of the nature of vagueness? Are there good methods that are neutral with respect to standard metaphysics of vagueness? I argue for two methods. First, I argue that the way sorites series work entails that no concepts that pick out fundamental features are vague. If a concept is vague, then what it picks out is not fundamental. Second, I argue that if a concept is not vague, then what it picks out is fundamental. There are wide implications of this view for our prospects of success elsewhere in metaphysics, metaethics, and the philosophy of mind.