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Radiocarbon dates are certainly not precise to within a year or two, but they are generally precise to within a few hundred years or better.
This means radiocarbon's precision is generally sufficient to choose between alternate chronologies which differ by a hundred years or more.
Chronological sequence is all that is really required.
However, human beings love to see factual precision, and we want to know how old something is.
Measurements can be made with a high degree of precision. Aardsma submitted a sample from a reed mat known to be over 5,000 years old.
The measurement, before calibration, came back with an error bar of /- about 60 radiocarbon years. It should be noted that these measurement uncertainties do not increase linearly as one goes back in time.
In Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS), for example, the number of radiocarbon atoms in a stream of atoms coming from the sample is counted.
(For a good example of the role radiocarbon plays in biblical chronology see Is Bryant Wood's chronology of Jericho valid? Once such large-scale errors have been eliminated the precision of biblical chronology rivals that of dendrochronology. Radiocarbon is not generally useful for narrowing the range of such biblical chronology dates further because radiocarbon tends to have poorer precision than biblical chronology.Please remember that all dating methods, even those termed "absolute," are subject to margins of error. That is a very small amount of possible error range. Modern studies almost always use two or more methods to confirm dating work and to build confidence in the results obtained.Overview of Methods Superposition Stratigraphy Dendrochronology Radiocarbon C14 Radiometric Dating Methods Obsidian Hydration Dating Paleomagnetic/Archaeomagnetic Luminescence Dating Methods Amino Acid Racemization Fission-track Dating Ice Cores Varves Pollens Corals Cation Ratio Fluorine Dating Patination Oxidizable Carbon Ratio Electron Spin Resonance Cosmic-ray Exposure Dating This is an excellent overview of dating methodologies, and is a chapter in a textbook on Archaeology.Once the radiocarbon concentration in a sample has been measured, the sample's age in "radiocarbon years" is determined mathematically.The radiocarbon age must then be calibrated to determine the sample's age in calendar years.