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

3 - Contextualism and the Sorites Paradox

from Part I - Solutions to the Sorites Paradox


Contextualist accounts of the Sorites Paradox are sometimes taken as claiming that vagueness just is (a form of) context-sensitivity, and that the paradox is solvable by appeal to that context-sensitivity alone. We argue that this interpretation is misleading. Certainly contextualist accounts often provide plausible diagnoses of the intuitive pull of the soritical premise, and, due to their dynamical nature, they are well-suited to explain linguistic behaviour in so-called forced-march versions of the puzzle. However, they usually have to be coupled with non-contextualist accounts in order to resolve the paradox proper. We begin by distinguishing various contextualist explanations of the appeal of the soritical premise. Then we point out three main virtues of these approaches and discuss some objections. Lastly we consider the prospects for a recent descendant of contextualism that is meant to solve the paradox proper as well as the forced march puzzle.

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