Vague Speaker-Meaning

  • Stephen SchifferEmail author
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 20)


The dominant conception of speaker-meaning is that of a relation between speakers and the propositions they mean. Acts of vague speaker-meaning are the acts of speaker-meaning speakers perform in producing vague utterances, and since virtually every utterance is vague, virtually every act of speaker-meaning is an act of vague speaker-meaning. So the dominant conception of speaker-meaning is confronted with the question: What can be said about the proposition a speaker means in producing a vague utterance? The answer won’t be found in the publications of those who have advanced accounts of speaker-meaning, for it’s a striking feature of those publications—indeed, of virtually every presentation of a foundational semantic theory—that they completely ignore vagueness, even though virtually every utterance is vague. Perhaps the authors of these accounts would say that their ignoring vagueness is a useful idealization akin to Galileo’s ignoring friction in his idealized model of bodies in motion. They might say that, but, as we’ll see, they would be wrong—and wrong in ways that show that propositional attitudes aren’t relations to propositions (or to anything else), and that current ways of doing natural-language semantics can’t accommodate vague expressions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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