The sorites and the Generic Overgeneralization Effect

Analysis 72 (3):444-449 (2012)
Sorites arguments employ an induction step such as ‘Small numbers have small successors’. People deduce that there must be an exception to the generalization but are reluctant to conclude that the generalization is false. My hypothesis is that the reluctance is due to the "Generic Overgeneralization Effect". Although the propounder of the sorites paradox intends the induction step to be a universal generalization, hearers assimilate universal generalizations to generic generalizations (for instance, ‘All birds fly’ tends to be remembered as ‘Birds fly’). Most generic generalizations tolerate exceptions – especially when those exceptions are rare, abnormal, or difficult to imagine. Any counterexample to the induction step will have all of these features
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DOI 10.1093/analys/ans067
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Rachel Katharine Sterken (2015). Leslie on Generics. Philosophical Studies 172 (9):2493-2512.

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