Measurement with no standards: reflections of an unconventional psychometrician

The concept and process of measurement has fascinated physical scientists, social scientists and philosophers of science alike, and has been argued to demarcate the scientific status of a discipline of inquiry. As a consequence of this privileged status and attention throughout the 20th century, particularly in the social sciences, the concept of measurement evolved beyond the standard definition that stood (at least implicitly) for millennia, to a far more liberalised form. In this talk I will argue that these recent transformations have rendered measurement linguistically, semantically and methodologically ambiguous, and encouraged an attitude of expediency by social scientists with respect to their measurement claims, despite the numbers often being used and interpreted in a standard way. As part of this, I will lay out what I believe are some necessary conditions for measurement, and provide my own empirical examples of the measurement of social attitudes and primary-level numeracy to demonstrate the conceptual and practical importance of bringing more rigour to our measurement practices.
Audience participation is encouraged and I have prepared a very brief survey to inform my presentation. Participation is entirely voluntary and confidential, and will be greatly appreciated! –