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Sorites paradox

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A sand dune ("A heap of sand"). This one is in Namibia.

Sorites paradox (also called Paradox of the heap) is a paradox that arises when unclear terms are used. The name of the paradox is related to the Greek word for heap ('soros').[1] There are different versions, but a typical one involves a heap of sand. The heap is made of many grains of sand. So if one grain is removed, the structure will still be a heap. This process can be repeated, until only one grain of sand is left. Since the heap never changed to a non-heap, this grain of sand is still a heap.[2]

The paradox works the other way as well. If one begins with one grain of sand and adds another, and then another; when do the grains of sand become a heap?[3]


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  1. Bergmann, Merrie (2008). An Introduction to Many-Valued and Fuzzy Logic: Semantics, Algebras, and Derivation Systems. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-521-88128-9.
  2. Sorensen, Roy A. (2009). "sorites arguments". In Jaegwon Kim; Sosa, Ernest; Rosenkrantz, Gary S. (eds.). A Companion to Metaphysics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 565. ISBN 978-1-4051-5298-3.
  3. Sorites Paradox. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philiosophy. 2018.