What is Psychophysics?

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:47 - 57 (1994)
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Since the founding of psychophysics in the latter half of the nineteenth century, controversy has raged over the subject matter of psychophysical laws. Originally, Fechner characterized psycho physics as the science describing the relation between physical magnitudes and the sensations these magnitudes produce in us. Today many psycho-physicists would deny that sensation is or could be a topic of psycho-physical investigation. I consider Savage's (1970) influential objections to the possibility of such an investigation and argue that they depend upon (i) holding psychophysics to higher standards than those to which we hold other sciences; and (ii) misrepresenting Fechner's stated goals for psychophysics.



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Lawrence Shapiro
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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