On Ellis’ Theory of Quantities

  • John Forge
Part of the Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 5)


A statement of the account of quantities to be discussed and defended in this essay can be found in the second chapter of Brian Ellis’ book Basic Concepts of Measurement (Ellis 1966). I refer to this account as “Ellis’ theory of quantities”, although I should say at the outset that Ellis himself does not fully and unequivocally embrace the account. This has caused some confusion about precisely what his position is with regard to quantities, and has led two of his critics to write “It is not clear in what sense he [Ellis] does allow that quantities exist” (Byerley and Lazara 1972, p. 14)1. In the second part of this essay — there are three parts in all — I shall state what I believe to be Ellis’ theory and in so doing indicate in what sense he allows that quantities exist. In the third part I shall attempt to defend the theory against five objections, one of which is due to Ellis. It will be necessary to modify the theory in two respects in the light of these objections.


Linear Order Copper Tubing Standard Object Social Security Number Spring Balance 
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  1. Armstrong, D. M. (1978), A Theory of Universals. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong, D. M. (1983), What is a Law of Nature? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Byerley, H. C. and V. A. Lazara (1972), ‘Realist Foundations of Measurement’, Philosophy of Science 39, pp. 5–26.Google Scholar
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  5. Hempel, C. G. (1952), Fundamentals of Concept Formation in Empirical Science. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Forge
    • 1
  1. 1.Griffith UniversityAustralia

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