Re: a site for sorites

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Tue Jan 09 2001 - 06:45:16 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:

> And speaking of language games,
> < we might return to the conclusion that the sorites paradox is just
> another ‘word game’ or ‘puzzle’ meant to perplex us, but with little or no
> serious implications for our ways of life. In mathematics and science, for
> example, sorites issues do not affect measurements of real objects, such as
> determining that there are two molecules of oxygen and one of carbon in
> carbon dioxide. Yet, in areas such as applied ethics, law, and politics,
> intersubjective agreement depends on the clear categorisation of things
> vis-à-vis organising terms and concepts. This fact invites us to further
> investigate just how the sorites underlies problems in these and other
> practical areas. All in all, the sorites paradox could therefore have a
> more profound influence than we think, more than just another ‘word game’
> or ‘puzzle’, on our individual and collective lives. >
> Damien Broderick

I am interested in paradoxes. This one is that there is a grain, which is not
a heap of grain. As grains are added, when does it become a heap? In the
dictionary, there is an entry for heap, you can erase what's there and put your
own definition, for example, "any two stacked grains is a heap", or "any more
than 3 (or 3,000) grains is a small heap". If for n grains in heap then n-1
grains is heap, risking single or zero grains in heap, then you must simply
assign a lower limit.


Ross Andrew Finlayson
Finlayson Consulting
Ross at Tiki-Lounge:
"The best mathematician in the world is Maplev in Ontario."  - Pertti L.

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