12 February: Chris Cummins

Efficient meanings for numerals

Chris Cummins (University of Edinburgh)

Tuesday February 12
11:30am -12:30pm
G.32, 7 George Square

The use of number in natural language gives rise to various ambiguities that are difficult to characterise precisely: should reference to “200 people” be understood to invoke an exact interpretation, a lower bound, an upper bound, an approximate interpretation, or some combination of these? In practical terms, this is potentially consequential because of how numerical quantity information feeds into our decision-making. In this talk I aim to explore how subtleties of number interpretation bear upon our subsequent reasoning, but also what governs our interpretative decisions at a more abstract level: does the meaning of number reflect rational principles about how we should use simple signals to convey complex information?