Sorites paradox

paradox that a heap of sand and a heap of sand minus one grain is also a heap, then one grain of sand is a heap

Sorites paradox (also called Paradox of the heap) is a paradox that arises when unclear terms are used. The name of the paradox is related to the Greek word for heap ('soros').[1] There are different versions, but a typical one involves a heap of sand. The heap is made of many grains of sand. So if one grain is removed, the structure will still be a heap. This process can be repeated, until only one grain of sand is left. Since the heap never changed to a non-heap, this grain of sand is still a heap.[2]

A sand dune ("A heap of sand"). This one is in Namibia.

The paradox works the other way as well. If one begins with one grain of sand and adds another, and then another; when do the grains of sand become a heap?[3]


  1. Bergmann, Merrie (2008). An Introduction to Many-Valued and Fuzzy Logic: Semantics, Algebras, and Derivation Systems. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-521-88128-9.
  2. Sorensen, Roy A. (2009). "sorites arguments". In Jaegwon Kim; Sosa, Ernest; Rosenkrantz, Gary S. (eds.). A Companion to Metaphysics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 565. ISBN 978-1-4051-5298-3.
  3. "Sorites Paradox". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philiosophy.