Vagueness as probabilistic linguistic knowledge

Daniel Lassiter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Consideration of the metalinguistic effects of utterances involving vague terms has led Barker [1] to treat vagueness using a modified Stalnakerian model of assertion. I present a sorites-like puzzle for factual beliefs in the standard Stalnakerian model [28] and show that it can be resolved by enriching the model to make use of probabilistic belief spaces. An analogous problem arises for metalinguistic information in Barker's model, and I suggest that a similar enrichment is needed here as well. The result is a probabilistic theory of linguistic representation that retains a classical metalanguage but avoids the undesirable divorce between meaning and use inherent in the epistemic theory [34]. I also show that the probabilistic approach provides a plausible account of the sorites paradox and higher-order vagueness and that it fares well empirically and conceptually in comparison to leading competitors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVagueness in Communication
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Workshop, VIC 2009, held as part of ESSLLI 2009, Bordeaux, France, July 20-24, 2009. Revised Selected Papers.
EditorsRick Nouwen, Robert Rooij, Uli Sauerland, Hans-Christian Schmitz
Place of PublicationBerlin, Heidelberg
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783642184468
ISBN (Print)9783642184451
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2011
Event21st European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information - Bordeaux, France
Duration: 20 Jul 200931 Jul 2009

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Berlin, Heidelberg
VolumeLNAI, 6517
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference21st European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information
Abbreviated titleESSLI '09

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • higher-order vagueness
  • lexical representation
  • probability
  • vagueness


Dive into the research topics of 'Vagueness as probabilistic linguistic knowledge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this