The Metaphysics of Measurement


My thesis is that there are good reasons for a philosophical account of measurement to deal primarily with the properties or magnitudes of objects measured, rather than with the objects themselves. The account I present here embodies both a realism about measurement and a realism about the existence of the properties involved in measurement. It thus provides an alternative to most current treatments of measurement, many of which are operationalistic or conventionalistic, and nearly all of which are nominalistic.1 This enables the present account to give better explanations of a number of features of measurement and other aspects of science than competing accounts of measurement can, and to be more readily integrated into a realist account of natural laws and causation. It also illustrates a general strategy for combining a familiar and powerful approach to representation with intensional entities like properties, which I think can be useful for dealing with a number of philosophical problems.

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Chris Swoyer
University of Oklahoma

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Citations of this work

Properties.Francesco Orilia & Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Old and New Problems in Philosophy of Measurement.Eran Tal - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1159-1173.
Measurement in Science.Eran Tal - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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