Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details


International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics

Ed. by Hüntelmann, Rafael / Meixner, Uwe / Tegtmeier, Erwin

Together with Cumpa, Javier

Editorial Board Member: Addis, Laird / Davies, Brian / Hochberg, Herbert / Johansson, Ingvar / Kanzian, Christian / Klima, Gyula / Koons, Robert C / Künne, Wolfgang / Löffler, Winfried / Mulligan, Kevin / Nef, Frederic / Oaklander, Nathan / Oderberg, David / Orilia, Francesco / Plantinga, Alvin / Potrc, Matjaz / Rapp, Christof / Reicher-Marek, Maria Elisabeth / Schantz, Richard / Scholz, Oliver / Seibt, Johanna / Simons, Peter / Smith, Barry / Stoecker, Ralf / Strobach, Niko / Trettin, Käthe / Wachter, Daniel

2 Issues per year

See all formats and pricing

How (Not) To Argue Against Vague Object

Ali Abasnezhad
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Campus, E370–1866 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1 Canada
  • Email:
Published Online: 2016-09-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2016-0015


In a series of papers, Elizabeth Barnes and Robert Williams have developed a theory of metaphysical vagueness in which they argue for legitimacy of vague object and indeterminate identity. In his recent paper, Ken Akiba raises two objections against Barnes-Williams theory, concluding that it is ill-conceived and wrong-headed. In one objection, he argues that the theory implies indeterminate identity between referentially determinate objects to which λ-abstraction is applicable, and hence Evans’ argument ultimately goes through. In the other, he objects that Barnes-Williams theory also fails to block Salmon’s argument. This paper discusses the two objections. It argues that there are legitimate reasons for rejecting both, and hence to revive Barnes-Williams theory. Furthermore, it is shown that the objections, while unsuccessful, are helpful in revealing the limitations of Barnes-Williams theory.

Keywords: metaphysical vagueness; vague object; indeterminate identity; Evans’; argument; Salmon’s argument


  • Abasnezhad, A., and D. Hosseini. 2014. “Vagueness in the World; a Supervaluationist Approach.” In Vague Objects and Vague Identity: New Essays on Ontic Vagueness, edited by K. Akiba and A. Abasnezhad, 239–56. Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Akiba, K. 2015. “Referential Indeterminacy with an Ontic Source? – A Criticism of Williams’s Defense of Vague Objects.” Metaphysica 16:167–78.

  • Barnes, E., and R. Williams. 2009. “Vague Parts and Vague Identity.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90:176–87. [Crossref]

  • Barnes, E., and R. Williams. 2011. “A Theory of Metaphysical Indeterminacy.” In Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Volume 6, edited by K. Bennett and D. Zimmerman, 103–48. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Evans, G. 1978. “Can There Be Vague Objects?” Analysis 38:208. [Crossref]

  • Fine, K. 1975. “Vagueness, Truth and Logic.” Synthese 54:235–59.

  • Lewis, D. 1988. “Vague Identity: Evans Misunderstood.” Analysis 48:128–30. [Crossref]

  • Parsons, T., and P. Woodruff. 1995. “Worldly indeterminacy of identity.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95:171–191. [Crossref]

  • Parsons, T. 2000. Indeterminate Identity: Metaphysics and Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Salmon, N. 1981. Reference and Essence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Williams, R. 2008a. “Multiple Actualities and Ontically Vague Identity.” The Philosophical Quarterly 58:134–54.

  • Williams, R. 2008b. “Ontic Vagueness and Metaphysical Indeterminacy.” Philosophy Compass 3:763–88. [Crossref]

  • Williamson, T. 1994. Vagueness. London: Routledge.

  • Wilson, J. 2013. “A Determinable-Based Account of Metaphysical Indeterminacy.” Inquiry 56:359–85. [Crossref]

About the article

Published Online: 2016-09-09

Published in Print: 2016-09-01

Citation Information: Metaphysica, ISSN (Online) 1874-6373, ISSN (Print) 1437-2053, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2016-0015. Export Citation

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in