Operationism

Operationism

Operationism

Operationism

Excerpt

EVER SINCE PHYSICISTS experienced the shock of the relativity theory, which compelled them to abandon some of the most favored of their traditional "absolutes," they have been turning increased attention to a re-examination and criticism of their methods. One clear-cut indication of this new interest was the publication in 1927 of The Logic of Modern Physics by the Harvard University physicist, P. W. Bridgman . In this book a new theory of method was defined and proposed. In spite of Bridgman's insistence that he was merely describing the procedures of the physicists and not developing a new theory of knowledge, the point of view which he adopted has come to be called "operationism" or "operationalism." It claimed to provide a criterion for eliminating vague and meaningless concepts by arguing that all concepts should be defined in terms of empirically performable operations. While there was some criticism of Bridgman's formulation of the method, his general proposal was accepted by most physicists as the procedure most likely to contribute to the advancement of physics and, in particular, most likely to avoid future difficulties of the kind created by the theory of relativity.

While this fact would have been sufficient to justify the importance of Bridgman's contribution to the theory of method, a more significant consequence was the general . . .

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