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How uncertainty can save measurement from circularity and holism

Ritson, Sophie and Staley, Kent (2020) How uncertainty can save measurement from circularity and holism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. ISSN 00393681

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Abstract

Measurement results depend upon assumptions, and some of those assumptions are theoretical in character. This paper examines particle physics measurements in which a measurement result depends upon a type of assumption for which that very same result may be evidentially relevant, thus raising a worry about potential circularity in argumentation. We demonstrate how the practice of evaluating measurement uncertainty serves to render any such evidential circularity epistemically benign. Our analysis shows how the evaluation and deployment of uncertainty evaluation constitutes an in practice solution to a particular form of Duhemian underdetermination that improves upon Duhem's vague notion of “good sense,” avoids holism, and reconciles theory dependence of measurement with piecemeal hypothesis testing.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Ritson, Sophiesophritson@gmail.com0000-0003-3596-307X
Staley, Kentstaleykw@gmail.com0000-0002-7536-2087
Keywords: Measurement, Uncertainty, Underdetermination, Duhem, Circularity, Holism, Sensitivity
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Physics
Depositing User: Dr Sophie Ritson
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2020 14:57
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2020 14:57
Item ID: 18402
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsa.2020.10.004
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Physics
Date: November 2020
ISSN: 00393681
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18402

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