Phil 585

Quantities, Measurement, and Credence

Metaphysicians have wondered about the status of quantitative properties, like mass, charge, and distance. Are they fundamentally properties of objects (or pairs of objects, in the case of distance) or are they fundamentally constituted by comparative relations? Philosophers of science and social scientists have wondered about the nature of measurement - what does it take for some feature of the world to admit of a numerical scale for measurement? Epistemologists and decision theorists have considered many arguments about what it takes for credence and utility to be rational. In this seminar, we will consider these three topics and the relations between them, and hopefully we will be able to clarify some of the issues at their intersection.

Jan. 14, Introduction

No reading for this week

Jan. 21, The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence

Read the whole correspondence in one of these editions (I prefer the modernized):

Original English translation

Modernized English translation

Some supplementary notes:

D. Bertoloni Meli, "Caroline, Leibniz, and Clarke" - explains the role of Caroline of Ansbach (at the time Princess of Wales, and later Queen of England) in the intellectual dispute

Leibniz' Philosophy of Physics

Jan. 28


John Bigelow and Robert Pargetter, "Quantities"

Feb. 4


David Armstrong, "Are Quantities Relations? A Reply to Bigelow and Pargetter"

Maya Eddon, "Armstrong on Quantities and Resemblance"

Feb. 11 (I will be out of town)

Feb. 18


Frank Ramsey, "Truth and Probability"

Feb. 25


Lyle Zynda, "Representation Theorems and Realism about Degrees of Belief"

Christopher Meacham and Jonathan Weisberg, "Representation Theorems and the Foundations of Decision Theory"

Mar. 4


David Christensen, "Measuring Confirmation"

Ellery Eells and Branden Fitelson, "Measuring Confirmation and Evidence"

Mar. 11


Chapter 1 of Luce/Krantz/Suppes/Tversky, Foundations of Measurement Theory

Mar. 18 (Spring Break)

Mar. 25


Sections 2.5, 2.6 (pp. 76-98) of Fred Roberts, Measurement Theory. You may want to review the first half of the chapter as well, which covers similar material to the Luce/Krantz/Suppes/Tversky. Read through the exercises at the end of the two sections we are reading, and think about them, but don't worry about writing them up or anything.

Apr. 1 (canceled - I am out of town)

Apr. 8


Geoff Lee, "The Experience of Left and Right"

David Baker, "'The Experience of Left and Right' Meets the Physics of Left and Right"

Apr. 15


Shamik Dasgupta, "Absolutism vs. Comparativism about Quantity"

David Baker, "Some Consequences of Physics for the Comparative Metaphysics of Quantity"

Apr. 22

David Baker, "Some Consequences of Physics for the Comparative Metaphysics of Quantity"

Kenny Easwaran, "Why Physics Uses Second Derivatives"

Apr. 29