On May 6, 2003 a thematic 'Conference' on the Epistemology of Measurement in the Social Sciences : Contemporary Perspectives was organized at the Institute of History and Philosophy of Science and Technique, Paris, France. At IHPST the concerns with the epistemology of social sciences are multifaceted. The May 6 conference was concerned with the family of measurement models familiar to the readers of Rasch Measurement Transactions.
David Andrich (Murdoch University, Australia) gave a paper on Recognizing problems after they are solved in the construction of models of measurement in the social sciences. He showed us, in reference to Kuhn's work, that various measurement problems in the social sciences were recognized as problems after their solution was derived. This required insights and recognition of the implications of the models, but the models were not constructed with the solution to those problems in mind. Indeed, He suggested that the problems could not have been solved if it was set out to solve them.
Joel Michell (University of Sydney University, Australia) gave a paper on The theory of additive conjoint measurement and the Rasch model. His point was that although the relationship between the Rasch model for psychometric measurement and the theory of additive conjoint measurement has been recognized since the 1970s, surprisingly little attention has been given to the issue of testing the hierarchy of conjoint measurement cancellation conditions in the Rasch context and in particular the contrast between the following three issues: (1) the information that each of these cancellation conditions supplies about the structure of the ability & difficulty attributes, (2) the empirical content they each possess, and (3) the a priori probability of falsifying them in the Rasch context.
William Fisher (Metametrics Inc., Durham, NC, USA) gave a paper on The metaphysics of measurement : Toward a hermeneutic-mathematical methodological continuum. He suggested that we could understand the role of measuring instruments in the social sciences as some kind of text production. From this he presented his own theory of measurement's objectivity taking into account some of the post modernist criticism, in reference to Latour, while enabling to understand the character both conventional and objective of measurement in its relation to experiment. He also outlined some metaphysical implications of this understanding.
Trevor Bond (James Cook University, Australia) setting the tone for the discussion, gave a paper on The Rasch model and the progress of science. He provided wide ranging perspectives on the uses of the family of Rasch models in the social sciences and their consequences along with insights on the difficulties and snags of their applications and dissemination.
Philippe Lemoigne (CNRS-Paris 5 University, France) Opened the discussion with the following question: why is measurement, on the one hand, very much developed in the social sciences and on the other hand somewhat blind to questions related to the metrical character of the data ? He analyzed several examples from clinical psychology and psychiatry where he thinks this dilemma is especially salient.
Alain Leplège Institut d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques, Paris & Département de Philosophie, Université d'Amiens, France.
Conference Report: Epistemology of Measurement. Alain Leplège Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2003, 17:1, 908
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