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Collins, Peter J. and Hahn, Ulrike (2018): Communicating and reasoning with verbal probability expressions. In: UNSPECIFIED Elsevier. pp. 67-105

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Abstract

We frequently communicate risk and uncertainty with verbal probability expressions (VPEs): expressions such as "unlikely," "possible," and "likely." Such expressions are, it is believed, so vaguely understood that there is an "illusion of communication": speaker and hearer believe that they understand each other but, in fact, do not. In this chapter we question the strength of the evidence for the illusion of communication and argue that the literature on VPEs has neglected the social and communicative contexts of communicating and reasoning with verbal probability expressions. We call on research on meaning in its social and communicative contexts-on natural-language pragmatics. We use this work to discuss existing research. Studying the social and communicative context may provide a route to revealing genuine, meaningful communication about risk and uncertainty. Future research of this kind may help to improve the communication of risk and uncertainty.

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