Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of or relating to a form of argument in which a series of incomplete syllogisms is so arranged that the predicate of each premise forms the subject of the next until the subject of the first is joined with the predicate of the last in the conclusion. For example, if one argues that a given number of grains of sand does not make a heap and that an additional grain does not either, then to conclude that no additional amount of sand will make a heap is to construct a sorites argument.
  • n. A sorites argument.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A series of propositions whereby each conclusion is taken as the subject of the next.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An abridged form of stating of syllogisms in a series of propositions so arranged that the predicate of each one that precedes forms the subject of each one that follows, and the conclusion unites the subject of the first proposition with the predicate of the last proposition.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A kind of sophism invented by Chrysippus in the third century before Christ, by which a parson is led by gradual steps from maintaining what is manifestly true to admitting what is manifestly false.
  • n. A chain-syllogism, or argument having a number of premises and one conclusion, the argumentation being capable of analysis into a number of syllogisms, the conclusion of each of which is a premise of the next.

Etymologies

Latin sōrītēs, sorites argument, from Greek sōreitēs, from sōros, heap.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Latin sōrītēs, from the Ancient Greek σωρείτης (sōreitēs, "fallacy of the heap"), from σωρός (sōros, "heap"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The 12-year-old was trying to become the first Canadian to win the bee, but she went out on the word "sorites," her look of concentration turning suddenly to a sad one when she realized she'd misspelled it.

    Pa. girl wins Bee with 'cymotrichous'

  • The 12-year-old was trying to become the first Canadian to win the bee, but she went out on the word "sorites."

    chicagotribune.com - News

  • Sorites arguments of the paradoxical form are to be distinguished from multi-premise syllogisms (polysyllogisms) which are sometimes also referred to as sorites arguments.

    Sorites Paradox

  • Your sorites doesn't negate my concept of "a reading experience"; it just demands that I don't pretend it's identical to the author's.

    Whether true or not

  • Neither "my experience" nor the "100% intellectually valid" queer reading are meant to be identical to the author's intention, and so your sorites is still attacking a point I'm not defending.

    Whether true or not

  • Since I have failed to clarify my argument against your concept of “reading experience,” let me reduce it to a sorites:

    Whether true or not

  • Actual ordinary mid-sized objects have vague boundaries, so the sorites argument may be used to show that we have no coherent non-trivial criterion of identity for them.

    Possible Objects

  • The evidence nonetheless suggests that Zeno anticipated reasoning related to that of the sorites paradox, apparently invented more than a century later.

    Zeno of Elea

  • Similarly, it is possible to construct sorites series for the application of even more abstract legal standards such as the United States constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, or the right to due process -- evaluative tests with special legal meanings that can only be understood in the context of a whole legal system (and by reference to their elaboration and development in a common law system of precedent).

    Law and Language

  • That is, those considerations do not provide a way of distinguishing between one tire in the sorites series and the next.

    Law and Language

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