On the adequacy of prototype theory as a theory of concepts

Daniel N. Osherson, Edward E. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

426 Scopus citations


Prototype theory construes membership in a concept's extension as graded, determined by similarity to the concept's "best" exemplar (or by some other measure of central tendency). The present paper is concerned with the compatibility of this view of concept membership with two criteria of adequacy for theories of concepts. The first criterion concerns the relationship between complex concepts and their conceptual constituents. The second concerns the truth conditions for thoughts corresponding to simple inclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-58
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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