Language and Logic workshop:
Vagueness in Communication.
Course material: vic09-alxatib-pelletier.pdf vic09-daniel-lassiter.pdf vic09-ewan-klein.pdf vic09-gottfried-vosgerau.pdf vic09-harald-bastiaanse.pdf vic09-lavi-wolf.pdf vic09-pablo-cobreros.pdf vic09-paul-egre.pdf vic09-stephanie-solt.pdf vic09-zardini-sweeney.pdf
Although vagueness has long since been an important topic in
philosophy, logic and linguistics, some recent advances have made the
functions of vagueness in natural language communication an exciting
and timely research area. This renewed interest has a distinct
cross-disciplinary character and has spawned many new research
questions. While the classical instruments of dealing with vagueness
-- like multi-valued logics, truth value gaps or gluts, or
supervaluations -- have not been significantly extended, new
approaches investigate questions like context-sensitivtiy of vagueness
(Kyburg & Moreau 2000), the sharpening of vague predicates in context
(Barker 2002), and the modeling of precision levels with expressions
like 'roughly' or 'like' (Kennedy 2007). Within the study of
comparatives and degree modification, moreover, researchers are now
exploring cross-linguistic aspects of vagueness (Beck et al 2004). On
a more fundamental level, the question why there is vagueness to begin
with, what role vagueness serves in human communication, has been
addressed. For example, it has been argued that vagueness is an
epiphenomenon of the impossibility of complete shared knowledge about
the extension of many terms (e.g. Williamson 1994), hence a
consequence of the cognitive limitations of humans. It has been shown
why this does not affect the utility of these terms in communication
(Parikh 1994). Game-theoretic methods have been employed that show
that being vague or imprecise can be beneficial for communication even
if the speaker could truthfully use more precise terms (de Jaegher
2003). Furthermore, the important role of vagueness became evident in
a number of empirical domains beyond obvious examples such as the
language of diplomacy -- for example, in geographical terms (e.g.
Bennett 2008) or in the description of measures of economy (Qizilbash
2005). There are also initial experimental investigations into the
ways how speakers interpret vague terms (e.g., Bonini e.a. 1999).
The workshop aims to bring together researchers whose work contributes to the broad inter-disciplinary line of inquiry outlined here. In particular, we welcome:
* papers that broaden the empirical base for the study of vagueness, be it linguistic or otherwise; * papers offering a synthesis of theories from different disciplines; and * papers addressing the pragmatics of vagueness.
The workshop aims to provide a forum for researchers (including advanced PhD students) to present and discuss their work with colleagues and researchers who work in the broad subject of the disciplines relevant for vagueness in communication, as represented in ESSLLI.