Conference: The Making of Measurement, Cambridge, UK, 23-24 July 2015

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Conference: The Making of Measurement, Cambridge, UK, 23-24 July 2015
Registration is now open for The Making of Measurement, an international conference to be held at the University of Cambridge on 23-24 July 2015.
The Making of Measurement is an interdisciplinary conference that seeks to consolidate an emerging international community of scholars interested in the history and/or philosophy of measurement. This new wave of scholarship is still in an embryonic stage and no general
conceptual frameworks or schools of thought have yet emerged. Inevitably, tensions exist between methodologically-diverse approaches across the fields of philosophy, history, and sociology of science, particularly with respect to whether measurement outcomes reflect facts
about nature, or about human tools and concepts. Hence the goal of this conference to bring together scholars to review recent advances and to identify key issues for further development. This decade is also seeing dramatic changes in the metric system because four scientific units are being redefined in terms of fundamental constants; the contemporary
relevance of a systematic approach in the humanities to the study of measurement is therefore particularly strong.  Contributors might choose to address one or more of the questions listed under the following themes:

  • Philosophies of Measurement: Under what conditions is the world justifiably deemed quantifiable? How do existing philosophies of measurement, for example operationalism, fit specific historical cases? Can measurements of the properties of macroscopic bodies and microscopic entities be analysed in the same way? When measuring instruments disagree, is it always possible to ascertain which one is in error? Do the relationships between measurement and theory in the natural sciences hold true for the social and human sciences?How does measurement function in areas of scientific enquiry, for example, psychological and psychical, where the entities under study have a dubious ontological grounding?
  • Units, Standards, and Metrology: Are measurement standards accurate by virtue of fact or convention? What are the social, political, and scientific aims for which, and means through which, units and standards are established? What impact have specialized metrological institutions had on processes of standardization?
  • Practices of Measurement: What kinds of conceptual approaches, methodological and mathematical tools, and practical steps have measurers taken to ensure sufficient reliability and precision for their measurements and instruments? How have these varied from sites ranging from elite laboratories to the workshop, factory, and home, and what kinds of exchange (of personnel, instruments, apparatus, techniques, and so on) takes place between these sites? What determines judgements of the level of acceptable error, and how do these relate to the purpose of the measurement, and economic and technological development?​

Keynote speakers:
Nancy Cartwright, Durham University
Graeme Gooday, University of Leeds
Terry Quinn, International Bureau of Weights and Measures
For more information and to register please visit the conference website:
You are invited to visit the conference Facebook page: