Not Exactly: In Praise of Vagueness

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OUP Oxford, Jan 28, 2010 - Philosophy - 368 pages
Not everything is black and white. Our daily lives are full of vagueness or fuzziness. Language is the most obvious example - for instance, when we describe someone as tall, it is as though there is a particular height beyond which a person can be considered 'tall'. Likewise the terms 'blond' or 'overweight' in common usage. We often think in discontinuous categories when we are considering something continuous. In this book, van Deemter cuts across various disciplines in considering the nature and importance of vagueness. He looks at the principles of measurement, and how we choose categories; the vagueness lurking behind what seems at first sight crisp concepts such as that of the biological 'species'; uncertainties in grammar and the impact of vagueness on the programmes of Chomsky and Montague; vagueness and mathematical logic; computers, vague descriptions, and Natural Language Generation in AI (a new class of programs will allow computers to handle descriptions such as 'the man in the yellow shirt'). Van Deemter shows why vagueness is in various circumstances both unavoidable and useful, and how we are increasingly able to handle fuzziness in mathematical logic and computer science.

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User Review  - sharder - LibraryThing

Having written my masters thesis on adjectival semantics in Montague Grammar many years ago, I very much looked forward to reading Kees van Deemters book. And I was not disappointed. He manages to ... Read full review


Measurements that Matter
Scientific discovery and word meaning
situations then we shall have achieved a lot In the same spirit
Vagueness in Numbers and Maths
The Linguistics of Vagueness
Reasoning with Vague Information
Parrying a Paradox
Degrees of Truth
Blood pressure in a complex membership function
Computers as Authors
The Expulsion from Booles Paradise
Expulsion from Paradise by Albrecht Diirer
Guaranteed Correct
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About the author (2010)

Kees van Deemter is a Reader in Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen. He works in computational linguistics, the area of artificial intelligence where computer science meets linguistics and his main areas of expertise are computational semantics and natural language generation. He has previously authored 90 research publications in philosophical logic, artificial intelligence and computational linguistics.

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