sorites

<philosophical terminolgy> a complex variety of arguments consisting entirely of categorical syllogisms linked together by the use of the same propositions as the conclusions of some and the premises of others. Example: "Some pets are cardinals, but all cardinals are finches, while every finch is a bird, and only warm-blooded animals are birds. Hence, some pets are birds." Applied to vague predicates, such chains of reasoning may result in paradox: if one grain of sand does not make a heap, and the addition of a second grain of sand does not make a heap, and the addition of a third grain of sand does not make a heap, etc., etc., then it would seem to follow (contrary to fact) that a collection of ten billion grains of sand must not be a heap. Recommended Reading: Lewis Carroll, Symbolic Logic & Game of Logic (Dover, 1958) and Linda Claire Burns, Vagueness: An Investigation into Natural Languages and the Sorites Paradox (Kluwer, 1991).

[A Dictionary of Pjilosophical terms and Names]

<2002-04-06>

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Nearby terms: sophism « sophists « sophrosine « sorites » soul » soundness » sound - unsound