Interval-based Dynamics of Loose Talk

Synthese 202 (10):1-23 (2023)
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Carter (Noûs 55(1):171–198, 2021) argued that while most simple positive numerical sentences are literally false, they can communicate true contents because relevance has a weakening effect on their literal contents. This paper presents a challenge for his account by considering entailments between the imprecise contents of numerical sentences and the imprecise contents of comparatives. I argue that while Carter's weakening mechanism can generate the imprecise contents of plain comparatives such as `A is taller than B', it cannot generate the imprecise contents of comparatives that quantify the difference between their arguments, such as `A is exactly n times as tall as B'. I then propose an alternative theory on which intervals serve as both thick degrees on a scale and denotations of numerical expressions. I argue that the alternative theory can account for the imprecise contents of both forms of comparatives as well as the data that motivate Carter's theory.

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Charlie Siu
Sun Yat-Sen University


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