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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

12 - The Sorites Paradox in Practical Philosophy

from Part II - The Influence of the Sorites Paradox


The first part of the chapter surveys some of the main ways in which the Sorites Paradox has figured in arguments in practical philosophy in recent decades, with special attention to arguments where the paradox is used as a basis for criticism. Not coincidentally, the relevant arguments all involve the transitivity of value in some way. The second part of the chapter is more probative, focusing on two main themes. First, it further addresses the relationship between the Sorites Paradox and the main arguments discussed in the first part, by elucidating in what sense they rely on (something like) tolerance principles. Second, it briefly discusses the prospect of rejecting the respective principles, aiming to show that we can do so for some of the arguments but not for others. The reason is that in the latter cases the principles do not function as independent premises in the reasoning but, rather, follow from certain fundamental features of the relevant scenarios. It is also argued that not even adopting what is arguably the most radical way to block the Sorites Paradox – that of weakening the consequence relation – suffices to invalidate these arguments.