Theory and Measurement

Theory and Measurement

Theory and Measurement

Theory and Measurement


Measurement is fundamental to all the sciences, the behavioural and social as well as the physical and in the latter its results provide our paradigms of 'objective fact'. But the basis and justification of measurement is not well understood and is often simply taken for granted. Henry Kyburg Jr proposes here an original, carefully worked out theory of the foundations of measurement, to show how quantities can be defined, why certain mathematical structures are appropriate to them and what meaning attaches to the results generated. Crucial to his approach is the notion of error - it can not be eliminated entirely from its introduction and control, her argues, arises the very possibility of measurement. Professor Kyburg's approach emphasises the empirical process of making measurements. In developing it he discusses vital questions concerning the general connection between a scientific theory and the results which support it (or fail to).


Although there is a sizable literature on measurement theory, relatively little has been published in recent years on the epistemological foundations of measurement, and on the complicated connection between measurement and the testing of theories. The present work is addressed to precisely these questions, though of necessity certain more general considerations concerning theory change, linguistic change, and epistemology are addressed along the way.

It is difficult to give a precise accounting of the time that went into this book, but part or all of the time released by grants SOC 77-26021 and SES 8023005 from the National Science Foundation clearly went into it, and the freedom provided by a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation for the academic year 1980-1, though it was mainly devoted to a more general topic, helped in the development of the last two chapters. I am also grateful to the University of Rochester for providing both leave and financial support during that year.

Conversations and correspondence with a number of people, and comments by a number of anonymous referees, have helped greatly in getting my ideas clear. In this connection, I wish particularly to thank Ernest Adams and Phillip Ehrlich, with whom I was lucky enough to have long conversations during a trip to California, and Zoltan Domotor who provided both unremitting criticism as a referee and unfailing support as a fellow seeker after the truth in measurement.

To my colleagues at Rochester I am grateful for moral support, and to the department secretaries I am not only grateful for unbounded patience and skill at typing and retyping sections of the manuscript, but more importantly for constant understanding and encouragement in a project that must not only have seemed mysterious but unending.

Two notational ambiguities should be mentioned here. First, I have used the symbol ' ' in two senses, which are distinct enough (I

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