PSA 1972 pp 375-384 | Cite as

Realist Foundations of Measurement

  • Henry C. Byerly
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 20)


A not uncommon conclusion of philosophers studying the conceptual foundations of measurement is that scales of measurement, though subject to requirements of consistency, convenience, and simplicity, are essentially based upon conventions, and thus cannot be said to refer to relationships among existing quantities. Brian Ellis, for example, in one of the most searching contemporary analyses of measurement concepts, claims that

certain metaphysical presuppositions made by positivists and nonpositivists alike, have played havoc with our understanding of many of the basic concepts of measurement, and concealed the existence of certain more or less arbitrary conventions. ([4], p. 3)


Realist Foundation Theoretical Entity Extreme Operationist Mercury Column Ordinary Discourse 
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    Astin, Allen V., ‘Standards of Measurement’, Scientific American, 1968.Google Scholar
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    Ellis, Brian, Basic Concepts of Measurement, Cambridge University Press, London, 1966.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry C. Byerly
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ArizonaUSA

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