Statistical Designs as Instruments

J. D. Trout

in Measuring the Intentional World

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780195107661
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786152 | DOI:
 Statistical Designs as Instruments

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This chapter aims to advance a realist conception of statistical designs according to which they are instruments of measurement. These instruments are best understood as detecting theoretical entities, particularly because improvements in design are guided by theoretical considerations. Drawing on designs from psychological research on the frequency effect and semantic priming, this chapter attempts to reveal the implausibility of the competing empiricist analysis. It then assesses how this realist treatment of statistical design fares against empiricist alternatives using experimental speech perception data. Empiricist efforts to avoid a realist understanding of this subject matter fail for the same reason that the operationalist analysis of lab instrumentation failed: the instruments/(designs) reflect, and scientists treat them as reflecting, sensitivity to real and unobservable causal features of the world.

Keywords: measurement; theoretical entities; empiricist; instrument; realism

Chapter.  13022 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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