Language and the ability to evaluate contradictions and tautologies

Daniel N. Osherson, Ellen Markman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Children were found to experience difficulty evaluating contradictions of the form p & -p, and tautologies of the form p v -p. It was hypothesized that (a) the difficulty of these statements was not due solely to the logical words occuring in them, (b) part of the difficulty is due to the fact that their truth value derives from their linguistic form rather than from empirical considerations, and (c) the ability to examine language in an objective manner, apart from events and objects to which it refers, is necessary but not sufficient for correct evaluation of contradictions and tautologies. The results of two experiments support the hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1974

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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