Perry, Wittgenstein's Builders and Metasemantics
Pragmatics & Cognition
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The paper discusses in detail John Perry’s important article “Davidson’s Sentences and Wittgenstein’s Builders”. Perry argues, on the basis of Wittgenstein’s famous block/slab language, that words make direct metasemantic contact with the world. The present paper urges that, while Perry’s conclusions are correct and important, the arguments provided for them, in his 1994 article, ignore essential features of genuine words in natural language. A more empirically-oriented alternative tactic for supporting the same philosophical conclusions is then provided, and its advantages and disadvantages are weighed.