How Accurate Is the Standard Second?

Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1082-1096 (2011)
Contrary to the claim that measurement standards are absolutely accurate by definition, I argue that unit definitions do not completely fix the referents of unit terms. Instead, idealized models play a crucial semantic role in coordinating the theoretical definition of a unit with its multiple concrete realizations. The accuracy of realizations is evaluated by comparing them to each other in light of their respective models. The epistemic credentials of this method are examined and illustrated through an analysis of the contemporary standardization of time. I distinguish among five senses of ‘measurement accuracy’ and clarify how idealizations enable the assessment of accuracy in each sense.
Keywords Measurement  Accuracy  Standards  Physics  Models  Idealizations
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DOI 10.1086/662268
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References found in this work BETA
Jim Woodward (2006). Some Varieties of Robustness. Journal of Economic Methodology 13 (2):219-240.

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Jacob Stegenga (forthcoming). Measuring Effectiveness. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

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