PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group


Speaker: Maria Serban (University of East Anglia)

Title: Beyond the descriptive project of psychological measurement: pragmatist foundations

Abstract: In many scientific and lay human activities measurement is viewed as a fundamental process by which we can obtain reliable information about objects and events in the real world. Two underlying assumptions of this widely spread conception of measurement have been critically scrutinised by both metrologists and philosophers of science: (1) that measurement delivers a mapping or correspondence between the empirical domain and the symbolic domain, wherever applied, and (2) that standards for validity of measurement should or can be universal across measurement practices.

This presentation extends a pragmatic/pragmatist perspective on measurement, increasingly endorsed by metrologists, to the realm of psychological measurement. According to this view, measurement is a two-step evaluation process, comprising a modelling step and an operative step (involving both experimentation and representation), through which specific characteristics of objects or events in the empirical world are assigned symbolic descriptions that must satisfy certain objectivity and intersubjectivity criteria.

While broadly applicable, this pragmatic perspective on measurement acknowledges the distinction between hard measurements in the physical sciences and soft measurements in the social sciences like psychology, offering a nuanced defence of the correspondence assumption in measurement theories. The talk advocates for a dual pragmatic analysis of psychological measurement and its validation, challenging the necessity of a validity-first framework in the social sciences.

Further information

We are a group of researchers from diverse backgrounds in the above-mentioned groups (and beyond) who aim to gain an interdisciplinary yet deep understanding of the threads that bind the human mind and the world. In particular, this seminar series focuses on the nature of cognition, metacognition and social cognition. We’ll be tackling questions such as, what does it mean to think? What does it mean to think about thinking? And, what does it mean to think about one’s own thinking versus thinking about the thinking of other people? Please come along!

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Contact details

Tillmann Vierkant

Jan 17 2024 -

PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

2024-01-17: CANCELLED

Room G.05, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LH