Question Umar Social Sciences

Sorites problems

What are sorites problems?

Did you know that we write custom assignments? We have experts in each specific subject area with vast experience. Get a complete answer and find out more about our writing services.

Answer Internal Staff

Sorites problems are a class of paradoxes which stem from the use of vague terms in contexts of precise application.

A classic example of a sorites problem can be found in the identification of a heap: suppose that I have 10,000 beans stacked on top of each other; this can be uncontroversially described as a ‘heap’ of beans. After removing a single bean, I consider whether I still have a heap of beans and it appears that I do. This process can be repeated numerous times until eventually, it appears to be rather unclear as to whether what I have is or is not a heap.

While it is clear that zero beans cannot constitute a heap and that 10,000 beans can, what is not clear is where the heap begins and ends. Thus, it is difficult to capture what exactly I mean when I refer to the heap and how to test whether or not my assertion is true.

Similar problems can be constructed not only for heaps, but for more or less any suitably vague term, of which there are many more in ordinary language than may initially appear to be the case.