John MacFarlane

John MacFarlane
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/10/2016 - 30/06/2017



Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Université de Californie, Berkeley (États-Unis)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

An expressivist account of vagueness

I propose to use tools developed for making sense of meta-ethical expressivism to give a new theory of vague language, one that explains what is attractive about the standard contending views while avoiding their problems. The view starts from the observation that nearly all language (not just paradigmatically vague language) has a built-in flexibility, adapting to the needs of particular conversations. Thus our uses of sentences jointly express factual beliefs about the world and decisions to use words in a certain way ("delineations"). The proposal is that the phenomena distinctive of vagueness can be explained from this general starting point, given some facts about the world and our purposes. Vagueness emerges as a pragmatic, not a semantic phenomenon.


John MacFarlane is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His early work in the philosophy of logic sought to shed light on debates about the demarcation of logic by uncovering their history. Most of his work in the last decade has been devoted to making sense of relativism about truth, and to providing models of meaning that help resolve contentious philosophical debates about taste, knowledge, future contingents, modality, conditionals, and obligation. His primary research interests lie in the philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and related issues in metaphysics and epistemology; he also maintains a secondary interest in ancient philosophy. He is the author of Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and Its Applications (Oxford, 2014) and numerous articles.