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Measuring UtilityFrom the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics$
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Ivan Moscati

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199372768

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199372768.001.0001

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Fundamental Measurement, Sensation Differences, and the British Controversy on Psychological Measurement, 1910–1940

Fundamental Measurement, Sensation Differences, and the British Controversy on Psychological Measurement, 1910–1940

Chapter:
(p.69) chapter 4 Fundamental Measurement, Sensation Differences, and the British Controversy on Psychological Measurement, 1910–1940
Source:
Measuring Utility
Author(s):

Ivan Moscati

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199372768.003.0005

Like chapter 1, chapter 4 broadens the narrative beyond utility measurement and reconstructs the discussions of measurement that took place in physics, philosophy, and psychology between 1910 and 1940. In physics and philosophy, the most influential discussion of measurement was presented in 1920 by Cambridge physicist Norman Robert Campbell. Campbell articulated a theory of fundamental and derived measurement that ultimately maintained the identification of measurement with unit-based measurement. In the 1920s, psychologists such as William Brown and Godfrey Thomson in England and Louis Leon Thurstone in the United States argued that some of their quantification techniques were capable of delivering unit-based measurement of sensations. Physicists denied this, and the resulting clash of views generated a controversy that engaged British physicists and psychologists from 1932 to 1940. The controversy ended in deadlock, with physicists and psychologists unable to find agreement on the meaning and the conditions of measurement.

Keywords:   Norman Robert Campbell, fundamental measurement, derived measurement, axiomatic approach, William Brown, sensation differences, Louis Leon Thurstone, comparative judgment, psychometrics, Ferguson committee

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