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The Standard Metre in Paris

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In Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein argues that we can neither say of the standard One Metre in Paris that it is a single metred length, nor that it is not. Kripke's reply to the puzzle is well known: the sentence expressing the assertion that the standard One Metre is one metre in length (at time t0) is a true, a priori and contingent sentence. In this paper, I would like to show the nature of the intuition that runs behind Kripke's reply to the puzzle, and why, in the final analysis, it is not satisfactory, with respect to the point made by Wittgenstein. In addition, I will show that the case of the One Metre in Paris exemplifies the radical break Wittgenstein makes with traditional concepts of meaning. I then draw a general lesson that shows that the structure of concepts and functions (measures) in Wittgenstein is given by the idea of an arbitrary choice of “an object of comparison.” Concepts and functions (measures) are materialised and internalised in the form of objects that are arbitrarily sampled from a sample space of same logical-type objects.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-10-01

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