Measurement Accuracy Realism

Authors
Paul Teller
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract
This paper challenges “traditional measurement-accuracy realism”, according to which there are in nature quantities of which concrete systems have definite values. An accurate measurement outcome is one that is close to the value for the quantity measured. For a measurement of the temperature of some water to be accurate in this sense requires that there be this temperature. But there isn’t. Not because there are no quantities “out there in nature” but because the term ‘the temperature of this water’ fails to refer owing to idealization and failure of specificity in picking out concrete cases. The problems can be seen as an artifact of vagueness, and so doing facilitates applying Eran Tal’s robustness account of measurement accuracy to suggest an attractive way of understanding vagueness in terms of the function of idealization, a way that sidesteps the problems of higher order vagueness and that shows how idealization provides a natural generalization of what it is to be vague.
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