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Possible interesting debate topic

Doritosguy93
Posts: 3
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3/20/2012 11:16:14 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
While reading an article on listverse titled "10 Great Unsolved Problems", I came across what could make for an interesting debate topic, or at least something interesting to discuss here. It is called the sorites paradox, and says that if you have a heap of sand, and take one grain out, you're still left with a heap of sand. After repeating the process of removing one grain of sand enough times, you're left with one grain of sand. Is the grain of sand still a heap? I just thought it was an intriguing thought and figured I would post it here to see what you all think about it.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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3/20/2012 12:55:10 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 11:16:14 AM, Doritosguy93 wrote:
While reading an article on listverse titled "10 Great Unsolved Problems", I came across what could make for an interesting debate topic, or at least something interesting to discuss here. It is called the sorites paradox, and says that if you have a heap of sand, and take one grain out, you're still left with a heap of sand. After repeating the process of removing one grain of sand enough times, you're left with one grain of sand. Is the grain of sand still a heap? I just thought it was an intriguing thought and figured I would post it here to see what you all think about it.

What about it would you like to debate? The Sorites paradox simply shows what happens when you attempt to describe things which can be divided into discrete amounts (grains of sand) using labels that cannot (heaps).
phantom
Posts: 6,774
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3/20/2012 8:47:59 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
What constitutes "a heap of sand" is purely subjective, therefore there is no specific time when it ceases to be a heap because it depends on the viewer.
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
The_Fool_on_the_hill
Posts: 6,071
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3/21/2012 1:59:57 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
The answer is simple. That is a heap is a generalization of set of observed amount.
That is an averaging, of typical observation. There for its not a particular amount.
so its makes no sence to use particular aka particular grains.

END OF DEBATE
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
The_Fool_on_the_hill
Posts: 6,071
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3/21/2012 10:14:20 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Give me more problem to figure out!!
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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3/22/2012 6:26:14 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/21/2012 1:59:57 AM, The_Fool_on_the_hill wrote:
The answer is simple. That is a heap is a generalization of set of observed amount.
That is an averaging, of typical observation. There for its not a particular amount.
so its makes no sence to use particular aka particular grains.

END OF DEBATE

Not the end of the debate, you just described the problem. The term "heap" is not for a particular amount. If it were, there would be no paradox because there would be a definite point at which it stops being a heap. But because "heap" does not refer to a specific amount, changing the specific amount by a single grain doesn't change its status as a "heap." The problem is, when you aggregate many such changes we result in something that no reasonable person would call a heap, but without performing any specific action that changes its status as a heap. So it is both a heap and not a heap. Hence: paradox.

Now, it was said that the problem lies in the subjectivity of the word, but that's not the case. This problem would exist even if everyone agreed what is and is not a heap. So it's not an issue with subjectivity, it's an issue with combining discrete and non-discrete measuring systems.
The_Fool_on_the_hill
Posts: 6,071
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3/23/2012 6:44:37 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Your are right.. I must be losing my mind. Good job. that sounds alot better. I get to sure of my self sometimes. Its an interesting problem
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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3/24/2012 5:14:58 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/22/2012 6:26:14 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 3/21/2012 1:59:57 AM, The_Fool_on_the_hill wrote:
The answer is simple. That is a heap is a generalization of set of observed amount.
That is an averaging, of typical observation. There for its not a particular amount.
so its makes no sence to use particular aka particular grains.

END OF DEBATE

Not the end of the debate, you just described the problem. The term "heap" is not for a particular amount. If it were, there would be no paradox because there would be a definite point at which it stops being a heap. But because "heap" does not refer to a specific amount, changing the specific amount by a single grain doesn't change its status as a "heap." The problem is, when you aggregate many such changes we result in something that no reasonable person would call a heap, but without performing any specific action that changes its status as a heap. So it is both a heap and not a heap. Hence: paradox.

Now, it was said that the problem lies in the subjectivity of the word, but that's not the case. This problem would exist even if everyone agreed what is and is not a heap. So it's not an issue with subjectivity, it's an issue with combining discrete and non-discrete measuring systems.

That's still describing the problem, isn't it?

I'd firstly predicate that the issue is not just varying from person to person, but varies situation to situation (and backdrop). Then I'd state if we get an incredibly huge heap of sand, then keep taking a grain of sand out, we'll get to a point where we can call it no longer a heap, but even if you add a grain, it'll still not be a heap. However, this is from my memory of the Sorites problem, I haven't read the article.
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