Context, interest relativity and the sorites

Analysis 63 (4):269–281 (2003)
Abstract
According to what I will call a contextualist solution to the sorites paradox, vague terms are context-sensitive, and one can give a convincing dissolution of the sorites paradox in terms of this context-dependency. 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 consequence, when we look for the boundary of the extension of a vague expression in its penumbra, our very looking has the effect of changing 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.
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    References found in this work BETA
    Peter Ludlow (1989). Implicit Comparison Classes. Linguistics and Philosophy 12 (4):519 - 533.
    Diana Raffman (1996). Vagueness and Context-Relativity. Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):175 - 192.
    Diana Raffman (1994). Vagueness Without Paradox. Philosophical Review 103 (1):41-74.

    View all 11 references

    Citations of this work BETA
    Keith DeRose (2008). Gradable Adjectives: A Defence of Pluralism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):141-160.

    View all 15 citations

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