SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

In the first section of this paper I present a view of linguistic meaning that I label 'Sentence Priority’(SP): the position that semantically primitive language-world contact is made at the level of complete sentences (rather than the level of sentence parts). Then, in the main part of the paper, I consider and reject an objection against Sentence Priority raised by John Perry, an objection that appeals to Wittgenstein's builders parable. Perry argues that the builder's utterances (‘Slab’,‘Pillar’, etc.) are utterances of self-standing nouns, and that therefore they constitute a counter-example to SP. A sound assessment of Perry's argument, however, depends on a clear distinction between two cases: one in which the four expressions mentioned in Wittgenstein's example exhaust the builders’expressive powers, and one in which they do not. Once these cases are distinguished it can be seen that in neither does Perry's argument go through.