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A New Interpretation of the Representational Theory of Measurement

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


On the received view, the Representational Theory of Measurement reduces measurement to the numerical representation of empirical relations. This account of measurement has been widely criticized. In this article, I provide a new interpretation of the Representational Theory of Measurement that sidesteps these debates. I propose to view the Representational Theory of Measurement as a library of theorems that investigate the numerical representability of qualitative relations. Such theorems are useful tools for concept formation that, in turn, is one crucial aspect of measurement for a broad range of cases in linguistics, rational choice, metaphysics, and the social sciences.

Models and Measurement
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Many thanks in particular to Eran Tal for many helpful comments, as well as to Constanze Binder, Marcel Boumans, Aki Lehtinen, Luca Mari, F. A. Muller, Julian Reiss, Jan-Willem Romeijn, and participants at the 2012 Arctic Workshop on Measurement in Rovaniemi, the 2013 OZSW Conference of the Dutch Research School of Philosophy in Rotterdam, and the 2014 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association in Chicago. Work on this article has been supported by a Marie Curie Career Integration grant 303900 from the European Union and a VENI grant 275-20-044 from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.


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