Man is the measure of all things.
November 23, 2011 2:38 PM Subscribe
What is the philosophy of measurement?
posted by StoneSpace to religion & philosophy (27 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I'm interested in the act of measurement: of using a physical device to extract a number out of the universe, and assigning it some form of meaning which exists in some half-world between mathematics and reality (for example, when we say something weighs 56kg, we can use the number "56" to do calculations and the tag "kg" to interpret the further results)
What kind of work has been done about such questions, and where should I start?
Here are some points of interest for me:
Counting: another form of extracting numbers from the environment, does not seem to qualify as a "measurement" as above. Is counting fundamentally different than weighing, for example? I suppose one can count using physical means and thus the point may be moot. But can the type of the measurement (integer or real, say) be of interest?
How to define measurement, anyway? Using a scale, for instance, presupposes some use for the data extracted from it, and so the use we make of the data must to some extent reflect the physical laws generating the numbers. Measurements always have error -- how much error is tolerable until all one gets is "noise"?
I could keep going but I'll stop.
Also: I'd like to avoid any kind of confusion with what quantum mechanics calls "measurement" because to be honest I don't fully understand it.