Martin Gustafsson (Åbo Akademi University):
The Illusion of Intransitive Measurement: Diamond, Kripke and Wittgenstein on the Standard Meter
In this paper, I discuss and compare Kripke’s and Wittgenstein’s discussions of the standard meter in Naming and Necessity and Philosophical Investigations. Starting from Cora Diamond’s interpretation of Wittgenstein’s argument, I spell out the consequences of the most basic feature of measuring qua practice, namely, its being a matter of repeated comparisons. I show that Kripke’s notion of how the reference of “one meter” is fixed has no substantive connection with the real-life phenomenon of measurement. I also address a worry about Wittgenstein’s conception: How can it leave any room for genuine progress in the development of measurement standards? I argue that the depth of Diamond’s interpretation shows itself precisely in the fact that it allows us to make sense of such progress, but without invoking the sort of practice-independent reference-fixing on which Kripke’s account is built.