, Volume 83, Issue 4, pp 711–740 | Cite as

Probabilistic Approaches to Vagueness and Semantic Competency

  • Peter R. SuttonEmail author
Original Research


Wright (Synthese 30:325–365, 1975) holds that the following two theses are jointly incoherent: (T1) Rules determine correct language use. (T2) These rules are discoverable via internal reflection on language use. I argue that incoherence is derivable from (T1) alone and examine two types of probabilistic accounts that model a modification of (T1), one in terms of inexact knowledge, the other in terms of viewing semantic rules as reasons for linguistic actions. Both accommodate tolerance by breaking the link between justified assertion and truth, but incoherence threatens their conception of justified assertion (the ‘relocation problem’). I argue that the rules-as-reasons approach can relocate sharp boundaries to a place where they are not only more tolerable, but to be expected.



This research was funded by a Strategic Research Fund (Strategischer Forschungsfonds—SFF) from Heinrich-Heine-University and by the DFG Collaborative Research Centre 991, project C09. The original impetus for writing this paper was for the VII Navarra workshop on vagueness. Thanks to the organisers and attendees of this workshop as well as to two anonymous Erkenntnis referees.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics, Institute for Language and InformationHeinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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