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Tautologies and contradictions in philosophy of language: Cognitive and grammatical aspects

Journal: The Digital Scholar: Philosopher’s Lab (Vol.2, No. 4)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 82-102

Keywords : tautologies; contradictions; semantics; grammaticality; natural language;

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In this paper, we explore the cognitive and grammatical aspects of tautologies and contradictions in contemporary philosophy of language and theoretical linguistics. We discuss Quine's critique of analyticity which leads to a view that only tautologies and contradictions are independent of any empirical reality. We show how tautologies and contradictions are problematic and argue that natural language treats them as grammatical only if there is a way to reinterpret them in a non-tautological or non-contradictory manner. Tautologies and contradictions that are such due to the meaning of the logical constants they contain (and not due to the meaning of content terms), in natural languages cannot be excluded as grammatically incorrect. We thus introduce a new perspective on tautology and contradiction that the reader might not be familiar with and use it to argue that the grammars of natural languages are sensitive to the cognitive significance of the expressions they generate.

Last modified: 2020-03-03 20:08:40