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Is it just that you are either certain or uncertain, or can you be very certain and somewhat certain? If it’s either/or, I know it would make sense to say “almost certain,” but “very certain” wouldn’t make sense. I’m not sure if “sure” is the same thing as “certain,” and what exactly “pretty sure” would mean.

  • Ok, I’m just not sure where to ask it then. I thought it would be under philosophy of language. – Jeremy Schmidt Jun 26 at 14:41
  • I agree that this question is more linguistic and than philosophical, but I disagree with the idea that there is "not more to it". Interpreting words of estimative probablity is known to be a complex and important issue. – Brian Z Jun 26 at 15:35
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    You may be unaware that there are different types of truths. One important one is objective truth.This truth remains the same forever. All women are human beings for instance. Then you have contingent truths which the value can change such as it is raining right now. It's not forever raining here is it? So certainty is an objective truth value. You either have it or you don't. By certain I mean 100 percent accurate with no error. For you to say almost certain expresses you don't gave 100 percent but a high percentage like over the 50 percent mark.In our ordinary speech we are contingent a lot. – Logikal Jun 26 at 17:32
  • You can quantify certainty by probabilities or degrees of belief (fuzzy logic) from 0 to 1, then you can be “very certain”, “almost certain” and “absolutely certain” depending on how close the value is to 1. – Conifold Jun 27 at 0:01
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    The reason people rarely say "very full" is just that it is quite easy to make a cup "completely full". The apparent difference between fullness and tallness is that there is no upper bound for the latter, in that sense certainty seems similar to fullness . But the upper bound makes little difference if it is not really achievable, like 100% certainty. So certainty is really more like tallness, and "very certain" is as relative as "very tall", more tall/certain than one is used to in a context. – Conifold Jun 30 at 4:52
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  1. If you are 'almost certain' then you are not certain. So this locution lends no support to the idea of a spectrum of certainty.

  2. 'Very certain' as the phrase is used means 'definitely certain'. It signifies that I am not in some other epistemological state, my state is one of certainty - no question. This again lends no support to the idea of a spectrum of certainty. It simply affirms that my state in one of certainty and not something else. 'Very' in other words serves the purpose solely of emphasis.

  3. If I am certain that p then I have the highest degree of confidence that p and there can be no degrees of highest degree - hence no spectrum.

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  • I wasn’t using “almost certain” as support for certainty being on a spectrum. I think it makes it binary. I feel as though saying “definitely certain” or even “absolutely certain” is just saying “certainly certain.” Like if someone says “I definitely want to eat the sandwich,” it seems that they are certain they want to eat it. It seems redundant to say “very certain.” – Jeremy Schmidt Jun 30 at 18:30
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    Thanks for clarification. Best - Geoff – Geoffrey Thomas Jul 1 at 9:02
  • No problem, good sir! – Jeremy Schmidt Jul 2 at 13:58

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