Vagueness and Order Effects in Color Categorization

Paul Egré, Vincent de Gardelle, David Ripley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes an experimental investigation of the use of vague predicates in dynamic sorites. We present the results of two studies in which subjects had to categorize colored squares at the borderline between two color categories (Green vs. Blue, Yellow vs. Orange). Our main aim was to probe for hysteresis in the ordered transitions between the respective colors, namely for the longer persistence of the initial category. Our main finding is a reverse phenomenon of enhanced contrast (i.e. negative hysteresis), present in two different tasks, a comparative task involving two color names, and a yes/no task involving a single color name, but not found in a corresponding color matching task. We propose an optimality-theoretic explanation of this effect in terms of the strict-tolerant framework of Cobreros et al. (J Philos Log 1-39, 2012), in which borderline cases are characterized in a dual manner in terms of overlap between tolerant extensions, and underlap between strict extensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-420
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Logic, Language and Information
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Borderline cases
  • Color categorization
  • Contextualism
  • Contradictions
  • Dynamic sorites
  • Enhanced contrast
  • Hysteresis
  • Order effects
  • Strict-tolerant semantics
  • Vagueness

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