Sensory Measurements: Coordination and Standardization

Biological Theory 10 (3):200-211 (2015)
Authors
Hasok Chang
Cambridge University
Ann-Sophie Barwich
Columbia University
Abstract
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 draw on olfactory performance tests, especially studies linking olfactory decline to neurodegenerative disorders.
Keywords Epistemic Iteration  Circularity  Sensory perception  Reliability  Smell  Psychophysics
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