Sorites: Definition and Examples

Sorites (derives from Greek word soros, meaning “a heap”), refers to the medium of argumentOpens in new window in which a great number of propositionsOpens in new window are so linked together, that the predicateOpens in new window of one becomes continually the subject of the next following, until at last a conclusion is drawn by bringing together the subject of the first proposition and the predicate of the last.

A Typical Example of Sorites

William DuncanOpens in new window in his ‘Elements of Logick’ provided the following example of a sorites:

  1. God is omnipotent.
  2. An Omnipotent Being can do every thing possible.
  3. He that can do every thing possible, can do whatever involves not a Contradiction.
  4. Therefore God can do whatever involves not a Contradiction.

Sorites as a climactic device in Rhetoric

In rhetoric, Sorites is also known as gradatio which refers to the accumulation of ascending chain of events.

This device is particularly evident in 2 Peter 1, where we have an ascending chain of virtues that eventually culminates to the supreme virtue — Christian love. Sorites in this very form merely involves repetition, something near to the heart of Asiatic rhetoric. It usually occurs in the structure of A … B, B … C, C … D, and so on.

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