29th Boulder Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science
Topic: Measurement Across the Sciences
University of Colorado at Boulder
November 1st-3rd, 2013
Description: Measurement plays a central role in scientific inquiry. But as science has changed over time, and new scientific disciplines have sprung up, the nature of scientific measurement has become complicated. To what extent do different scientific disciplines have a common understanding of measurement as a tool of inquiry? On the other hand, to what extent has the meaning and purpose of measurement become idiosyncratic to each discipline? And is it necessary for us to have common standards of measurement across disciplines? It is crucial for historians, philosophers, and scientists alike to reflect upon the role that measurement has played, and continues to play, across the sciences.
Denny Borsboom, Psychology Department, University of Amsterdam
Judah Levine, National Institute of Standards (Time and Frequency Division) & Department of Physics, University of Colorado.
Submissions: We invite submissions on any topic related to historical or philosophical aspects of scientific measurement. Some possible topics might include (but are certainly not limited to):
- General issues in scientific measurement (e.g., instrumentation, calibration, standardization, precision, definitions of 'measurement' and 'quantity', the role of the unit, measurement technologies, the role of metaphor, philosophy of metrology, measures of confirmation, causal impact, probabilities, etc.)
- Measurement in the physical sciences (e.g., measurement in quantum mechanics, measurement in engineering, measuring the very large, the very small, time, etc.)
- Measurement in the biological and health sciences (e.g., measuring fitness, selection, drift, gene flow, relatedness, ancestry, life expectancy, obesity, health, disease rates, disability, etc.)
- Measurement in the social sciences (e.g., defining and measuring psychological attributes and disorders, educational testing, the role of psychometric models, reflective vs. formative measurement, multidimensional measurement, cost-benefit assessment, measuring preferences, utilities, inflation, unemployment, poverty, etc.)
- History of measurement (e.g., changes in the meaning and practice of measurement through time, interactions between measurement and theory-development, sociology of quantification)
- Social values and measurement (e.g., corruption of measurement, politics of measures of social problems, values affecting choice of measurement, misuse of measures of cognitive attributes)
Faculty interested in presenting are invited to submit an abstract of roughly 500 words, while graduate students are invited to submit full papers of roughly 3000-4000 words. Projects should be appropriate for a presentation time of 20-30 minutes. Submissions are due by June 30, 2013 and should be sent as an email attachment (in .doc, .docx or .pdf format) to the organizer account (and cc:d to Professor Cleland): RCHPS@Colorado.EDU; firstname.lastname@example.org. Acceptances will be announced by August 15, 2013.
Graduate stipend: Graduate students are encouraged to submit for the program; those whose papers are accepted will receive a modest stipend of $100 to help offset travel expenses.
The Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science at University of Colorado at Boulder is co-sponsored by the University of Colorado College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for the Humanities and the Arts, the Museum of Natural History, and by the following University of Colorado Departments: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Geological Sciences; History; Mathematics; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; Philosophy; and Physics.