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Summary Measurement is a fundamental empirical process aimed at acquiring and codifying information about an entity, the object or system under measurement. This process is commonly interpreted in functional terms as a production process, accomplished by means of a measurement system, whose input is the system under measurement and whose output is a piece of information, the property value, about a certain instance of a general property of that system, the measurand. As a consequence, the central problem concerning the definition of measurement turns into the one of characterizing the just mentioned process. When an empirical general property is specified, any system under measurement can be viewed as a member of a class of systems characterized by that property. When provided with a set of relations between its elements, this class is called an empirical relational system and measurement can be conceived of as a mapping assigning numbers to elements of this system in such a way that the relations between these elements are preserved by relations between numbers in a numerical relational system. This is the model underlying the so-called representational theory of measurement, considered nowadays the standard measurement theory. According to this model to measure is to construct a representation of an empirical system to a numerical system, under the hypothesis that relations in the empirical system are somehow observable. The model has many merits, but it is also subject to many problems. In particular, the crucial drawback is given by the difficulty of linking the proposed conception of measurement with the way in which measurement is accounted for from a metrological point of view, specifically the point of view underlying the International Vocabulary of Metrology. Hence, the debate concerning the characterization of measurement is still open, where the principal task consists in defining a general model aiming at (i) providing a sound interpretation of measurement as structured process; (ii) identifying the ontological conditions to be fulfilled for measurement to be possible; (iii) identifying the epistemic conditions to be fulfilled for measurement results to be able to justify empirical assertions.
Key works The representational theory of measurement has its roots in the work of Scott and Suppes 1958 and has found its more extensive exposition in the three volumes of the Foundations of Measurement (1971, 1989, 1990), but see also Roberts 1985, for a more friendly presentation, and Narens 1985. The metrological standpoint is summarized in the International Vocabulary of Metrology (VIM). For a problematization of the representational theory see Domotor et al. 2008, where an analytical approach to measurement is developed, and Frigerio et al. 2010, where a synthesis between the representional approach and the metrological approach is proposed.
Introductions See Suppes 2002 for a general introduction to the representational standpoint.
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  1. added 2020-04-28
    Assessing Accuracy in Measurement: The Dilemma of Safety Versus Precision in the Adjustment of the Fundamental Physical Constants.Fabien Grégis - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 74:42-55.
    This article develops a historico-critical analysis of uncertainty and accuracy in measurement through a case-study of the adjustment of the fundamental physical constants, in order to investigate the sceptical “problem of unknowability” undermining realist accounts of measurement. Every scientific result must include a “measurement uncertainty”, but uncertainty cannot be be eval- uated against the unknown, and therefore cannot be taken as an assessment of “accuracy”, defined in the metrological vocabulary as the closeness to the truth. The way scientists use and (...)
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  2. added 2020-04-28
    The Evaluation of Measurement Uncertainties and its Epistemological Ramifications.Nadine de Courtenay & Fabien Grégis - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 65:21-32.
    The way metrologists conceive of measurement has undergone a major shift in the last two decades. This shift can in great part be traced to a change in the statistical methods used to deal with the expression of measurement results, and, more particularly, with the calculation of measurement uncertainties. Indeed, as we show, the incapacity of the frequentist approach to the calculus of uncertainty to deal with systematic errors has prompted the replacement of the customary frequentist methods by fully Bayesian (...)
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  3. added 2020-04-25
    The Structure of Gunk: Adventures in the Ontology of Space.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2008 - In Dean Zimmerman (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics: Volume 4. Oxford University Press. pp. 248.
    Could space consist entirely of extended regions, without any regions shaped like points, lines, or surfaces? Peter Forrest and Frank Arntzenius have independently raised a paradox of size for space like this, drawing on a construction of Cantor’s. I present a new version of this argument and explore possible lines of response.
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  4. added 2020-04-21
    Newton on Active and Passive Quantities of Matter.Adwait A. Parker - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A.
    Newton published his deduction of universal gravity in Principia (first ed., 1687). To establish the universality (the particle-to-particle nature) of gravity, Newton must establish the additivity of mass. I call ‘additivity’ the property a body's quantity of matter has just in case, if gravitational force is proportional to that quantity, the force can be taken to be the sum of forces proportional to each particle's quantity of matter. Newton's argument for additivity is obscure. I analyze and assess manuscript versions of (...)
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  5. added 2020-03-10
    Reply to Hawkins, Hassoun, and Arneson.Anna Alexandrova - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (4):537-544.
  6. added 2020-03-10
    Précis of A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being.Anna Alexandrova - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (4):509-511.
  7. added 2020-03-10
    Is Construct Validation Valid?Anna Alexandrova & Daniel M. Haybron - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):1098-1109.
    What makes a measure of well-being valid? The dominant approach today, construct validation, uses psychometrics to ensure that questionnaires behave in accordance with background knowledge. Our first claim is interpretive—construct validation obeys a coherentist logic that seeks to balance diverse sources of evidence about the construct in question. Our second claim is critical—while in theory this logic is defensible, in practice it does not secure valid measures. We argue that the practice of construct validation in well-being research is theory avoidant, (...)
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  8. added 2020-02-13
    Aktiver Realismus und die Geltungsansprüche wissenschaftlicher Wahrheiten.Miguel Ohnesorge - forthcoming - In Michael Jungert, Andres Frewer & Erasmus Mayr (eds.), Wissenschaftsreflexion: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven zwischen Philosophie und Praxis. Paderborn, Deutschland:
    Author's summary: I discuss the lessons that scientific realism, understood as a thesis about the metaphysical, epistemological, and semantic interpretation of scientific theories, has to learn from the philosophy of scientific practice. The standard arguments for scientific realism are shown to be incompatible with a practice-based understanding of theories, as they fail short of offering operationally sound concepts of "truth" and "reality. " I propose Hasok Chang's Active Realism (AR) as a solution to this compatibility problem and defend it against (...)
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  9. added 2020-02-13
    Review of "Joseph Mazur: The Clock Mirage: Our Myth of Measured Time". [REVIEW]Miguel Ohnesorge - forthcoming - Cleveland Review of Books.
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  10. added 2020-02-12
    The Axioms of Subjective Probability.Peter C. Fishburn - 1986 - Statistical Science 1 (3):335-358.
  11. added 2020-02-12
    Measurement and Mathematics.Henry E. Kyburg - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (2):29-42.
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  12. added 2020-02-11
    The Metaphysics of Measurement.Chris Swoyer - 1987 - In John Forge (ed.), Measurement, Realism and Objectivity Essays on Measurement in the Social and Physical Sciences. Reidel. pp. 235–290.
    My thesis is that there are good reasons for a philosophical account of measurement to deal primarily with the properties or magnitudes of objects measured, rather than with the objects themselves. The account I present here embodies both a realism about measurement and a realism about the existence of the properties involved in measurement. It thus provides an alternative to most current treatments of measurement, many of which are operationalistic or conventionalistic, and nearly all of which are nominalistic.1 This enables (...)
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  13. added 2020-02-11
    New Foundations of Objective Probability: Axioms for Propensities.Patrick Suppes - 1973 - Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics 74:515-529.
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  14. added 2020-02-11
    On Qualitative Probability Sigma-Algebras.C. Villegas - 1964 - Annals of Mathematical Statistics 35:1787-1796.
    The first clear and precise statement of the axioms of qualitative probability was given by de Finetti ([1], Section 13). A more detailed treatment, based however on more complex axioms for conditional qualitative probability, was given later by Koopman [5]. De Finetti and Koopman derived a probability measure from a qualitative probability under the assumption that, for any integer n, there are n mutually exclusive, equally probable events. L. J. Savage [6] has shown that this strong assumption is unnecessary. More (...)
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  15. added 2020-02-04
    Hugo Dingler Und Das Maßproblem in der Psychologie.Günter Trendler - 2006 - In Peter Janich (ed.), Wissenschaft Und Leben: Philosophische Begründungsprobleme in Auseinandersetzung Mit Hugo Dingler. Transcript Verlag. pp. 123-136.
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  16. added 2019-10-25
    La valeur de l'incertitude : l'évaluation de la précision des mesures physiques et les limites de la connaissance expérimentale.Fabien Grégis - 2016 - Dissertation, Université Sorbonne Paris Cité Université Paris.Diderot (Paris 7)
    Abstract : A measurement result is never absolutely accurate: it is affected by an unknown “measurement error” which characterizes the discrepancy between the obtained value and the “true value” of the quantity intended to be measured. As a consequence, to be acceptable a measurement result cannot take the form of a unique numerical value, but has to be accompanied by an indication of its “measurement uncertainty”, which enunciates a state of doubt. What, though, is the value of measurement uncertainty? What (...)
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  17. added 2019-10-21
    On the Meaning of Measurement Uncertainty.Fabien Grégis - 2019 - Measurement 133:41-46.
    This article discusses the definitions of ‘‘measurement uncertainty” given in the three editions of the International Vocabulary of Metrology (VIM) and a fourth definition which was suggested for the next edition of this document. It is argued that none of the definitions is satisfying. First, a thorough definition of measurement uncertainty should supply an explanation about the meaning of the concept, which is missing from the VIM2&3. Secondly, when provided, the meanings are not accurate enough: the VIM1 version is flawed (...)
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  18. added 2019-10-14
    Understanding Implicit Bias: Putting the Criticism Into Perspective.Michael Brownstein, Alex Madva & Bertram Gawronski - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
  19. added 2019-09-21
    Beyond the Metrological Viewpoint.Jean Baccelli - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 1:56-61.
    The representational theory of measurement has long been the central paradigm in the philosophy of measurement. Such is not the case anymore, partly under the influence of the critique according to which RTM offers too poor descriptions of the measurement procedures actually followed in science. This can be called the metrological critique of RTM. I claim that the critique is partly irrelevant. This is because, in general, RTM is not in the business of describing measurement procedures, be it in idealized (...)
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  20. added 2019-07-08
    From Eye to Machine: Shifting Authority in Color Measurement.Sean F. Johnston - 2002 - In B. Saunders & J. Van Brakel (eds.), Theories, Technologies, Instrumentalities of Color: Anthropological and Historiographic Perspectives. Lanham, MD 20706, USA: University Press of America. pp. 289-306.
    Given a subject so imbued with contention and conflicting theoretical stances, it is remarkable that automated instruments ever came to replace the human eye as sensitive arbiters of color specification. Yet, dramatic shifts in assumptions and practice did occur in the first half of the twentieth century. How and why was confidence transferred from careful observers to mechanized devices when the property being measured – color – had become so closely identified with human physiology and psychology? A fertile perspective on (...)
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  21. added 2019-07-08
    The Construction of Colorimetry by Committee.Sean F. Johnston - 1996 - Science in Context 9 (4).
    This paper explores the confrontation of physical and contextual factors involved in the emergence of the subject of color measurement, which stabilized in essentially its present form during the interwar period. The contentions surrounding the specialty had both a national and a disciplinary dimension. German dominance was curtailed by American and British contributions after World War I. Particularly in America, communities of physicists and psychologists had different commitments to divergent views of nature and human perception. They therefore had to negotiate (...)
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  22. added 2019-06-06
    Thermoscopes, Thermometers, and the Foundations of Measurement.David Sherry - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):509-524.
    Psychologists debate whether mental attributes can be quantified or whether they admit only qualitative comparisons of more and less. Their disagreement is not merely terminological, for it bears upon the permissibility of various statistical techniques. This article contributes to the discussion in two stages. First it explains how temperature, which was originally a qualitative concept, came to occupy its position as an unquestionably quantitative concept (§§1–4). Specifically, it lays out the circumstances in which thermometers, which register quantitative (or cardinal) differences, (...)
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  23. added 2019-06-06
    Number and Measure: Hermann von Helmholtz at the Crossroads of Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.Olivier Darrigol - 2003 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (3):515-573.
    In 1887 Helmholtz discussed the foundations of measurement in science as a last contribution to his philosophy of knowledge. This essay borrowed from earlier debates on the foundations of mathematics, on the possibility of quantitative psychology, and on the meaning of temperature measurement. Late nineteenth-century scrutinisers of the foundations of mathematics made little of Helmholtz’s essay. Yet it inspired two mathematicians with an eye on physics, and a few philosopher-physicists. The aim of the present paper is to situate Helmholtz’s contribution (...)
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  24. added 2019-06-06
    Theory in Psychology: A Reply to Tryon's "Measurement Units and Theory Construction".Altan Löker - 1999 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 20 (3):277-294.
    Tryon advises psychologists to construct theories as physicists do, and claims that a theory of physics is a system of algebraic relations which constitute the definitions of new concepts and their units of measurement in terms of existing ones, at least two basic units being initially adopted. He says that these algebraic relations create a knowledge hierarchy, which he considers a theory. In reality, only some of the mathematical relations of physics are definitions, which introduce new tools, while the rest (...)
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  25. added 2019-06-06
    Measurement Units and Theory Construction: A Reply to Löker's "Theory in Psychology".Warren Tryon - 1999 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 20 (3):295-298.
    Tryon's primary thesis and four corollary points are restated. Seven of Löker's primary criticisms are identified and rebutted. It is concluded that measurement units are theoretical entities because they concern the quanta being measured and that these entities can be combined in various ways to generate new theoretical concepts.
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  26. added 2019-06-06
    Philosophical Issues of Current Interest to Measurement Theorists.William H. Angoff - 1987 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 7 (2):112-122.
    The research interests of measurement theorists in psychology are, expectedly, largely methodological, entailing a search for improved ways of applying statistical principles and methods to problems of measurement. However, these theorists are fundamentally psychologists, and their interests are, also expectedly, rooted in the substantive areas in psychology and education in which their methods are applied. Several such areas are of particular importance today, provoking continuing discussion at a broad range of conceptual and methodological levels. Among the most perplexing of these (...)
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  27. added 2019-06-06
    KYBURG Jr, H. E. [1984]: Theory and Measurement. Cambridge University Press. [REVIEW]W. Balzer - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37:506.
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  28. added 2019-06-06
    Metaphysics and Measurement: Essays in the Scientific Revolution. [REVIEW]Gavin Ardley - 1969 - Philosophical Studies (Dublin) 18:227-227.
    The late Alexandre Koyré was one of the foremost scholars of recent times in the field of the history of philosophy and natural science. He was the author of innumerable papers and books on a wide range of topics in his chosen field, some of the most memorable being devoted to the interpretation of Galileo’s achievement.
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  29. added 2019-06-06
    A "Fundamental" Axiomatization of Multiplicative Power Among Three Variables.R. Duncan Luce - 1965 - Philosophy of Science 32 (3/4):301.
    Suppose that entities composed of two independent components are qualitatively ordered by a relation that satisfies the axioms of conjoint measurement. Suppose, in addition, that each component has a concatenation operation that, together either with the ordering induced on the component by the conjoint ordering or with its converse, satisfies the axioms of extensive measurement. Without further assumptions, nothing can be said about the relation between the numerical scales constructed from the two measurement theories except that they are strictly monotonic. (...)
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  30. added 2019-05-13
    Compte rendu de L’observation scientifique, aspects philosophiques et pratiques de Vincent Israel-Jost. [REVIEW]Quentin Ruyant - 2018 - Lato Sensu, Revue de la Société de Philosophie des Sciences 5:41-43.
    Revue de l'ouvrage "l'observation scientifique" de Vincent Israël-Jost. -/- Review of the book "l'observation scientifique" of Vincent Israël-Jost.
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  31. added 2019-05-07
    What Do Implicit Measures Measure?Michael Brownstein, Alex Madva & Bertram Gawronski - 2019 - WIREs Cognitive Science:1-13.
    We identify several ongoing debates related to implicit measures, surveying prominent views and considerations in each debate. First, we summarize the debate regarding whether performance on implicit measures is explained by conscious or unconscious representations. Second, we discuss the cognitive structure of the operative constructs: are they associatively or propositionally structured? Third, we review debates whether performance on implicit measures reflects traits or states. Fourth, we discuss the question of whether a person’s performance on an implicit measure reflects characteristics of (...)
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  32. added 2019-03-07
    A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being.Anna Alexandrova - 2017 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    Do the new sciences of well-being provide knowledge that respects the nature of well-being? This book written from the perspective of philosophy of science articulates how this field can speak to well-being proper and can do so in a way that respects the demands of objectivity and measurement.
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  33. added 2018-12-20
    Metaphysics and Measurement. Essays in Scientific RevolutionAlexandre KoyréÉtudes d'Histoire de la Pensée scientifiqueAlexandre Koyré.Marie Boas Hall - 1969 - Isis 60 (1):111-112.
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  34. added 2018-11-08
    The Mismeasure of Consciousness: A Problem of Coordination for the Perceptual Awareness Scale.Matthias Michel - 2018 - Philosophy of Science.
    As for most measurement procedures in the course of their development, measures of consciousness face the problem of coordination, i.e., the problem of knowing whether a measurement procedure actually measures what it is intended to measure. I focus on the case of the Perceptual Awareness Scale to illustrate how ignoring this problem leads to ambiguous interpretations of subjective reports in consciousness science. In turn, I show that empirical results based on this measurement procedure might be systematically misinterpreted.
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  35. added 2018-07-04
    Three Arguments for Absolute Outcome Measures.Jan Sprenger & Jacob Stegenga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):840-852.
    Data from medical research are typically summarized with various types of outcome measures. We present three arguments in favor of absolute over relative outcome measures. The first argument is from cognitive bias: relative measures promote the reference class fallacy and the overestimation of treatment effectiveness. The second argument is decision-theoretic: absolute measures are superior to relative measures for making a decision between interventions. The third argument is causal: interpreted as measures of causal strength, absolute measures satisfy a set of desirable (...)
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  36. added 2018-02-17
    Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.Bas C. van Fraassen - 2008 - Oxford University Press UK.
  37. added 2017-11-09
    A Structural Interpretation of Measurement and Some Related Epistemological Issues.Alessandro Giordani - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A:1-11.
    Measurement is widely applied because its results are assumed to be more reliable than opinions and guesses, but this reliability is sometimes justified in a stereotyped way. After a critical analysis of such stereotypes, a structural characterization of measurement is proposed, as partly empirical and partly theoretical process, by showing that it is in fact the structure of the process that guarantees the reliability of its results. On this basis the role and the structure of background knowledge in measurement and (...)
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  38. added 2017-09-21
    Computer Simulation, Measurement, and Data Assimilation.Wendy S. Parker - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):273-304.
    This article explores some of the roles of computer simulation in measurement. A model-based view of measurement is adopted and three types of measurement—direct, derived, and complex—are distinguished. It is argued that while computer simulations on their own are not measurement processes, in principle they can be embedded in direct, derived, and complex measurement practices in such a way that simulation results constitute measurement outcomes. Atmospheric data assimilation is then considered as a case study. This practice, which involves combining information (...)
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  39. added 2017-07-06
    Sensory Measurements: Coordination and Standardization.Ann-Sophie Barwich & Hasok Chang - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (3):200-211.
    Do sensory measurements deserve the label of “measurement”? We argue that they do. They fit with an epistemological view of measurement held in current philosophy of science, and they face the same kinds of epistemological challenges as physical measurements do: the problem of coordination and the problem of standardization. These problems are addressed through the process of “epistemic iteration,” for all measurements. We also argue for distinguishing the problem of standardization from the problem of coordination. To exemplify our claims, we (...)
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  40. added 2017-05-08
    Measurement in Science.Eran Tal - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  41. added 2017-03-27
    Visual Data – Reasons to Be Relied On?Nicola Mößner - 2017 - In Nicola Mößner & Alfred Nordmann (eds.), Reasoning in Measurement. New York: Routledge. pp. 99-110.
    In today’s science, the output of measurement processes are often visual representations of the data detected. Moreover, we find such visual data as parts of scientific reasoning in different contexts. In this article, we will take a look at two of them. On the one hand, visual representations are used as a kind of surrogate for the real object to ask questions about it – we will call this the exploratory use of visual data. On the other hand, visualisations are (...)
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  42. added 2017-01-26
    Normal Measurement and Reasonable Agreement.T. S. Kuhn - 1982 - In Barry Barnes & David O. Edge (eds.), Science in Context: Readings in the Sociology of Science. MIT Press. pp. 75--93.
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  43. added 2017-01-26
    The Measurement of Perceptual Durations.Robert Efron - 1972 - In J. T. Fraser, F. Haber & G. Muller (eds.), The Study of Time. Springer Verlag. pp. 207--218.
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  44. added 2017-01-25
    Social Measurement: What Stands in its Way?Martin Bulmer - 2001 - Social Research 68.
    Measurement is any process by which a value is assigned to the level or state of some quality of an object of study. This value is given numerical form, and measurement therefore involves the expression of information in quantities rather than by verbal statement. It provides a powerful means of reducing qualitative data to more condensed form for summarization, manipulation and analysis. The classical distinctions made by S S S Stevens between nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio measurement are a common (...)
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  45. added 2017-01-23
    Unique Nontransitive Measurement on Finite Sets.Peter C. Fishburn - 1990 - Theory and Decision 28 (1):21-46.
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  46. added 2017-01-19
    Axiomatic Thermodynamics and Extensive Measurement.Fred S. Roberts & R. Duncan Luce - 1968 - Synthese 18 (4):311 - 326.
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  47. added 2017-01-19
    Scaling Theory and the Nature of Measurement.William W. Rozeboom - 1966 - Synthese 16 (2):170 - 233.
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  48. added 2017-01-17
    Measurement in Medicine: Philosophical Essays on Assessment and Evaluation.Leah McClimans (ed.) - 2017 - Rowman & Littlefield International.
    This volume introduces readers to the main philosophical issues of measurement in medicine, illustrating the connections between the natural and social sciences by integrating essays on causation, measuring instruments and issues of measurement and policy.
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  49. added 2017-01-17
    Concepts and Measurement: Ontology and Epistemology.Gary Goertz & James Mahoney - 2012 - Social Science Information 51 (2):205-216.
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  50. added 2017-01-17
    Measuring the Mind: Conceptual Issues in Contemporary Psychometrics.Denny Borsboom - 2005 - Cambridge University Press.
    Is it possible to measure psychological attributes like intelligence, personality and attitudes and if so, how does that work? What does the term 'measurement' mean in a psychological context? This fascinating and timely book discusses these questions and investigates the possible answers that can be given response. Denny Borsboom provides an in-depth treatment of the philosophical foundations of widely used measurement models in psychology. The theoretical status of classical test theory, latent variable theory and positioned in terms of the underlying (...)
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