Context, indexicals and the sorites

Analysis 64 (4):362–364 (2004)
The reason, according to the contextualist, that precise boundaries for expressions like ‘heap’ or ‘tall for a basketball player’ are so difficult to detect is that when two entities are sufficiently similar (or saliently similar), we tend to shift the interpretation of the vague expression so that if one counts as falling in the extension of the property expressed by that expression, so does the other. As a conse- quence, when we look for the boundary of the extension of a vague expression in its penumbra, our very looking has the effect of chang- ing the interpretation of the vague expression so that the boundary is not where we are looking. This accounts for the persuasive force of sorites arguments. (Stanley 2003: 269).
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DOI 10.1111/j.0003-2638.2004.00511.x
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Scott Soames (2002). Replies. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2):429–452.

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