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The quantification of intelligence in nineteenth-century craniology: An epistemology of measurement perspective

Luchetti, Michele (2022) The quantification of intelligence in nineteenth-century craniology: An epistemology of measurement perspective. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Craniology – the practice of inferring intelligence differences from the measurement of human skulls – survived the dismissal of phrenology and remained a widely popular research program until the end of the nineteenth century. From the 1970s, historians and sociologists of science extensively focused on the explicit and implicit socio-cultural biases invalidating the evidence and claims that craniology produced. Building on this literature, I reassess the history of craniological practice from a different but complementary perspective that relies on recent developments in the epistemology of measurement. More precisely, I identify two aspects of the measurement culture of nineteenth-century craniologists that are crucial to understand the lack of validity of craniological inference: their neglect of the problem of coordination for their presupposed quantification of intelligence and their narrow view of calibration. Based on my analysis, I claim that these methodological shortcomings amplified the impact of the socio-cultural biases of craniologists, which had a pervasive role in their evidential use of measurement. Finally, my argument shows how the epistemology of measurement perspective can offer useful tools in debates concerning the use of biological evidence to foster social discourse and for analyzing the relationship between theory, evidence, and measurement.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Luchetti, Michelemic.luchetti@gmail.com0000-0003-2578-2232
Keywords: Craniology; quantification; measurement; intelligence; coordination; calibration; validity
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
Depositing User: Dr. Michele Luchetti
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2022 12:50
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2022 12:50
Item ID: 21083
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
Date: August 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21083

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