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A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being$
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Anna Alexandrova

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199300518

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199300518.001.0001

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Psychometrics as Theory Avoidance

Psychometrics as Theory Avoidance

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter 6 Psychometrics as Theory Avoidance
Source:
A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being
Author(s):

Anna Alexandrova

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199300518.003.0006

In theory construct validation secures good measurement by balancing all available evidence. But does it do so in practice? This chapter argues that validation of well-being scales as currently practiced is unduly selective about what evidence counts. It is not enough to check whether a measure correlates with other measures and indicators that background theory deems relevant if this background theory does not include normative and conceptual considerations about the nature of well-being. In this sense psychometrics commits theory avoidance. Its root is a disciplinary convention of evidential subjectivism, which reduces the big philosophical questions to technical exercises in statistics and factor analysis or reformulates them as reports of subjects’ opinions. To overcome these problems philosophical considerations need to be given a more central place in validation.

Keywords:   construct validity, validation, psychometrics, validity, theory avoidance, evidential subjectivism, factor analysis

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