Is perceptual indiscriminability nontransitive?

Philosophical Topics 28 (1):153-75 (2000)
It is widely supposed that one family of sorites paradoxes, perhaps the most perplexing versions of the puzzle, owe at least in part to the nontransitivity of perceptual indiscriminability. To a first approximation, perceptual indiscriminability is the relationship obtaining among objects (stimuli) that appear identical in some perceptual respect—for example hue, or pitch, or texture. Indiscriminable objects look the same, or sound the same, or feel the same. Received wisdom has it that there are or could be series of objects _o_1…_o_n in which _o_1 and _o_2 are indiscriminable, _o_2 and _o_3 are indiscriminable, etc., and _o_n-1 and_ o_n are indiscriminable, but _o_1 and _o_n are discriminably different. For example, there could be a series of colored patches so ordered that each patch looks the same in hue as its immediate neighbors but the whole progresses from a clear case of red to a clear case of orange. On the assumption that an observational word like ‘red’ applies to both if to either of a pair of perceptually indiscriminable items, the absurd conclusion of the sorites comes into view. Crispin Wright explains.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0276-2080
DOI 10.5840/philtopics200028118
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