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MaieusisEssays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat$
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Dominic Scott

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199289974

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289974.001.0001

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Self‐Refutation and the Sorites

Self‐Refutation and the Sorites

(p.351) 18 Self‐Refutation and the Sorites

R. J. Hankinson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines a passing hint of Cicero's — one which has generally been either ignored or treated simply as a joke — that the sorites may be applied to itself, or to the more general notion of coherent argument, with potentially devastating results. The term ‘potentially devastating’ is used since it is unclear whether the threatened disaster must occur, and if it does, which of the opposing sides in the dispute it is potentially disastrous for. The debate is reconstructed to mirror that between Sceptics and Dogmatists as to the question of whether sceptical arguments against argument are self-refuting, and if so, what the appropriate upshot of that ought to be.

Keywords:   sceptics, sceptical arguments, self-refuting, Cicero

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