Vagueness and Language Use


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For example, the common noun "elephant" divides the world into elephants and non-elephants. What characterizes a vague term is the existence of borderline cases which do not clearly belong or not belong to its extension. But there are many borderline cases: barstools, beanbag "chairs", school desks, etc. The fallacy of Vagueness comes about when the appearance of cogency of an argument depends upon vagueness in its terms. The mere fact of vagueness is not sufficient to justify an accusation of fallacy, but it is sometimes a logical boobytrap which can cause the unsuspecting person to fall into fallacious reasoning.

For this reason, it is useful to be aware of and on our guard against vague terms, so that we can continue to use our vague language without being ensnared by it.


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As a logical fallacy, Vagueness is the most general fallacy in which the fallaciousness of an argument turns on vague language. This is why no Example is given for this fallacy, as instances should be examples of a subfallacy.

Exposure: Vagueness should be distinguished from ambiguity : an ambiguous term has more than one meaning, whereas vagueness is characteristic of a single meaning that has borderline cases. However, it is not unusual for a term to be both ambiguous and vague; in fact, this is the usual case. It can be hard learning another language, but seriously, Spanish doesn't differentiate 'his',' her', or 'its' among other things , so in a sentence like "she used his car" you have to wait til "he got mad about that" to know whose car it was!

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I can read a short story and only when things stop making sense do I realize the characters I thought were talking aren't even in the picture. I know my understanding of the syntax isn't that great, and old Spanish is a bit different from what I've learned, but some things are ridiculous. Being brief only works if the context is clear and close to the ambiguous word. I guess in a short story, the author crams in as much information in as few words as possible, and there isn't much time to clear up ambiguity a native speaker can understand.

Towards the end of the article its mentioned that," The speaker is interested in conveying as much as possible with the fewest possible words, while the listener is aiming to get a complete and specific understanding of what the speaker is trying to say". Being longwinded, perhaps inherently so, my sentences aren't always the concisest and its actually quite enjoyable when the person I am paying attention to, takes me on an oratory roller coaster, you know, as long as we still get there, to the point that is.

I would even suggest that conversation, both monologue and dialogue, offer up a stroll through the meadows of others minds. Though, at times,"Honey, pass the sugar" ,is enough. The ambiguity can sometimes actually hinder communication, but often it is the same plot for a joke for a funny situation, but if we take into account that a computer system can not interpret the ambiguity, it is necessary to create objective words, no double meanings, so there are no conflicts, I agree with the text, enjoyed.

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I believe that ambiguity can benefit both the listener as well as harm if not properly contextualized. One that transmits a message has to try to be as simple as possible so that the message is not transmitted from one exhaustively. But easily solved by analyzing the context if the message in both written and audio, yet not really giving to not generate ambiguity with loose without words is inserted into a context. The ambiguity is important that does not have any errors in the computer system so that the future has no conflict on the computers of a printed example. In my view, it is a great challenge.

For more advanced of the technology in today's world, we know that to interpret certain phrases or orders we take into account the meaning of words. Do with computers know how to use or deciphering words with double meaning is quite complex. The machines can not feel, see, and only run when you have a double meaning not know what to decide.

[] Modeling Language Vagueness in Privacy Policies using Deep Neural Networks

Ambiguity can be used artfully on purpose. For example, the tag line "branding, done right" from a creative agency could refer to the proper use of the client's logo given their brand standards and brand identity, or it could mean that their print production accurate produces your logo with the correct PMS colors. As a marketer, I love messages that enable the recipient to read the meaning that is most relevant to them. Is this a valid enough premise? MIT News Office. Browse or. Browse Most Popular. Leventhal City Prize Looking under the surface of politics in Latin America Quantum sensing on a chip Perception of musical pitch varies across cultures How cities can leverage citizen data while protecting privacy Study: Even short-lived solar panels can be economically viable.

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7-9 April 2008, École Normale Supérieure, Paris

Game changer: How Christopher Weaver transformed video games and game studies at MIT Looking under the surface of politics in Latin America Rethinking orientation for new grad students The permanent struggle for liberty. Thus the logic of vagueness is a logic for equivocators. But logicians normally require that a statement be disambiguated before logic is applied. The mere fact that an ambiguous statement comes out true under all its disambiguations does not show that the statement itself is true.

Sentences which are actually disambiguated may have truth-values. But the best that can be said of those that merely could be disambiguated is that they would have had a truth-value had they been disambiguated Tye Supervaluationism will converge with classical logic only if each word of the supervaluated sentence is uniformly interpreted.

Vague sentences resist mixed interpretations. However, mixed interpretations are permissible for ambiguous sentences. Even if one agrees that supervaluationism converges with classical logic about theoremhood, they clearly differ in other respects.

Supervaluationism requires rejection of inference rules such as contraposition, conditional proof and reductio ad absurdum Williamson , — In the eyes of the supervaluationist, a demonstration that a statement is not true does not guarantee that the statement is false. The supervaluationist is also under pressure to reject semantic principles which are intimately associated with the application of logical laws.

In other words, truth is disquotational. Supervaluationists say that being supertrue being true under all precisifications suffices for being true.

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But given Convention T, supertruth would then be disquotational. Williamson , — And that would be a fatal loss of truth-value gaps for supervaluationism. After the clarification, some wonder how supervaluationism differs from drastic metaphysical skepticism.

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In his nihilist days, Peter Unger admitted that it is useful to talk as if there are children. Unger was free to use supervaluationism as a theory to explain our ordinary discourse about children. Unger instead used other resources to explain how we fruitfully apply empty predicates.

But once the dust had cleared and the precise rubble came into focus, Unger had to conclude that there are no children. Officially, the supervaluationist rejects the induction step of the sorites argument. Unofficially, he seems to instead reject the base step of the sorites argument. Supervaluationism is also haunted by a logical analogy.

Whereas the supervaluationist analyzes borderline cases in terms of truth-value gaps the dialetheist analyzes them in terms of truth-value gluts.

Using Vague Language

A glut is a proposition that is both true and false. The rule for assigning gluts is the mirror image of the rule for assigning gaps: A statement is true exactly if it comes out true on at least one precisification. The statement is false just if it comes out false on at least one precisification.

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