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Home > Archives > Previous years: Workshops and Colloquie > Journées et colloques 2019-2020 > Measurement at the Crossroads

Measurement at the Crossroads

3rd interdisciplinary conference on the history and philosophy of measurement //\

Measurement at the Crossroads is the third interdisciplinary conference to explore the history and philosophy of measurement after Dimensions of Measurement in Bielefeld (2013) and The Making of Measurement in Cambridge (2015). The conference will bring together historians, philosophers and sociologists of science to address questions related to measurement across disciplines ranging from the natural sciences to the life and human sciences.

The recent revival of the philosophy of measurement in the early 2000s appears to be instrumental in overcoming the tensions that obstructed science studies during much of the second half of the twentieth century. The Paris conference aspires to promote the new ways of addressing issues of quantification and measurement that are now emerging and promising to bridge the various gulfs – theoretical versus practical, descriptive versus normative – that have divided the philosophical, historical and sociological approaches to science. It is now recognized that questions of quantification transcend the earlier focus on meaning and representation which formerly attracted the attention of philosophers of science, and that these questions benefit from investigation alongside the means and processes that enable scientists, and human agents in general, to agree on their measurement results and make them reliable bases for decision and action. The resulting shift of attention towards the uses of measurement results in inference and prediction places the new agenda of philosophy of measurement at the crossroads of conceptual, epistemic, historical, material, technological and institutional issues.

The 2018 conference comes at a time when the field of metrology is about to reach an important turning point with the reform of the International System of Units (SI) that is to be announced by the end of 2018. With Measurement at the Crossroads we aspire to connect the discussions developing in the emerging field of history and philosophy of measurement with some of the issues arising from this major reshaping of the field of metrology. Special attention will thus be given to issues pertaining to the formation of systems of units and standards, as well as to related institutional matters. The conference will build upon the two former ones by inscribing these issues more explicitly in a world-wide and a long-term perspective. In addition to the enquiries related to the contemporary SI reform, time will therefore be allotted for studies concerned with how measurement units have been worked out in the past, from Antiquity to today’s reform, in different regions of the world. This will offer a cultural-anthropological outlook on metrology.

The main language of the conference is English.



To: 2018.06.27 2018.06.28 2018.06.29


8:15 – 8:45 Welcoming coffee and registration
8:45 – 9:00 Introduction : Nadine de Courtenay, Fabien Grégis, Christine Proust & the organizing committee

9:00 – 10:30 Keynote lecture 1

Eran Tal (McGill University): Measurement, Prediction and Coherence

Chair: Fabien Grégis (Tel Aviv University)
Room: Amphithéâtre 310 (École nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Val de Seine)

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 – 13:00 Parallel sessions (A)

Panel 1 (symposium): Computation and measurement at the Large Hadron Collider: managing complexity in high energy physics experiments

  • Sophie Ritson (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt): Measurement and machine learning at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC): the Higgs self-coupling as a case study
  • Florian Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal): How to infer from simulated measurements?
  • Paul Grünke (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie): The epistemic status of experimental measurements involving computer simulations

Chair: Thomas Coudreau (University Paris Diderot)
Room: Luc Valentin 454A

Panel 2: Historical foundations of the philosophy of measurement

  • Michael Heidelberger (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen): Ernst Mach’s theory of measurement
  • Francesca Biagioli (University of Vienna): Hermann von Helmholtz and the quantification problem of psychophysics
  • Pablo Acuña (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso): Measuring the epistemology of geometry

Chair: Nadine de Courtenay (University Paris Diderot)
Room: Malevitch 483A

Panel 3: Standardization at issue

  • Aashish Velkar (University of Manchester):The Cultural and economic consequences of global metrological standardisation
  • Rebecca Jackson (Indiana University): “The Uncertain method of drops”: How a non-uniform fluid unit survived the century of standardization
  • Edward Gillin (University of Cambridge): Mathematicians, musicians, and the measurement of musical pitch in mid-Victorian Britain

Chair: Youna Tonnerre (University Rennes 1 & University Paris Diderot)
Room: Mondrian 646A

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch Break – Restaurant

14:30 – 16:30 Parallel sessions (B)

Panel 4: Measurement, intersubjectivity and trust

  • Andrew Maul (University of California, Santa Barbara), Luca Mari (Università Cattaneo), Mark Wilson (University of California, Berkeley): Intersubjectivity of measurement across the sciences: Unit definition and dissemination
  • Rafael Lattanzi Vaz (National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology, Brazil): Metrological traceability and the bridge between reliability and trust
  • Florence Hsia (University of Wisconsin-Madison): Measuring a Chinese eclipse

Chair: Fabien Grégis (Tel Aviv University)
Room: Luc Valentin 454A

Panel 5: Revisiting the coordination problem

  • Rick Shang (Washington University in St Louis): Does the Coordination Problem Exist: Measurement in neuroimaging
  • Tzur Karelitz (National Institute for Testing and Evaluation), Charles Secolsky (Rockland Community College), Thomas Judd (United States Military Academy): The Evolution of face Validity from inception to reinstatement
  • William P. Fisher, Jr. (University of California, Berkeley): Blending objectivity and subjectivity in measurement: Benjamin Wright’s personal approach to learning

Chair: Francesca Biagioli (University of Vienna)
Room: Malevitch 483A

Panel 6: Measurement, social norms, and public health policies

  • Moran Levy, Gil Eyal (Columbia University): Politicizing imprecision
  • Marion Boulicault (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): Gender and the measurement of fertility: a case study in critical metrology
  • Nicolas Rasmussen (University of New South Wales, Sydney): Measuring fatness and its hazards: Precision adipometry versus a 1950s public health campaign against obesity

Chair: Claude-Olivier Doron (University Paris Diderot)
Room: Mondrian 646A

16:30 – 17:00 Coffee Break

17:00 – 18:30 Roundtable: Towards a New International System of Units

  • Christian Bordé (Académie des sciences, CNRS)
  • Richard Davis (International Bureau of Weights and Measures)
  • Marc Himbert (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers)
  • Estefania de Mirandés (International Bureau of Weights and Measures)
  • François Piquemal (Laboratoire National de métrologie et d’Essais)
  • Eran Tal (McGill University)

Chair: Thomas Coudreau (University Paris Diderot)
Amphithéâtre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)

18:30 Cocktail reception
Amphithéâtre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)


9:00 – 10:30 Keynote lecture 2

Wendy Parker (Durham University): Measuring via computer simulation?

Chair: Nadine de Courtenay (University Paris Diderot)
Amphithéâtre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 – 13:00 Parallel sessions (C)

Panel 7: Investigating models of social measurement

  • Leslie Pendrill (Research institutes of Sweden), Stefan Cano (Modus Outcomes), Theresa Köbe (Charité - University Medicine Berlin), Jeanette Melin (Research institutes of Sweden), Ariane Fillmer (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt): Restitution of ability and difficulty from decision-making: the metrology of human-based perceptions
  • David Andrich (The University of Western Australia): The Gaussian distribution as a culmination of the Rasch measurement theory of invariance
  • A. Jan Kutylowski (University of Oslo): Measurement and modelling of categorical variables in the socio-sciences: a comparison of traditional and modern approaches, with prospects for the future

Chair: Alain Leplège (University Paris Diderot)
Room: amphithéâtre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)

Panel 8: The Making of instruments and standards of measurement

  • Liqun Zhou (Beijing Foreign Studies University & Needham Research Institute, Cambridge): A DIY water clock (clepsydra) from a Chinese text of Yuan dynasty
  • Dieter Hoffmann (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte): Wilhelm Kösters (1876–1950) and the development of a new standard of length based on the wavelength of light
  • Eckhard Wallis (Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu - Paris Rive Gauche): Making clocks – Research at the Laboratoire de l’Horloge Atomique during the 1960s

Chair: Jan Lacki (University of Geneva)
Room: Luc Valentin 454A

Panel 9: Managing data: Three studies

  • Chris Partridge, Sergio De Cesare, David Leal, Mesbah Khan, Hayden Atkinson (University of Westminster), Andrew Mitchell: Explaining measurements to machines
  • Jean-Baptiste Grodwohl (University of Cambridge): Measuring natural selection in population genetics
  • Jean-Pierre Llored (Université Paris Diderot): Investigating measurement: The Case of chemical metrology

Chair: Sarah Hijmans (University Paris Diderot)
Room: Malevitch 483A

Panel 10: Measurement practices: from state regulation to mathematical guidance

  • Carlos Gonçalves (University of São Paulo): Measurement in an Ancient Mesopotamian loan archive
  • Guy Sechrist (University of Cambridge): “False measures”: Seventeenth-century English gauging instruments and legitimizing English excise
  • Jennifer Egloff (Zayed University): Artisans’ resistance to geometrical measurement techniques in the Early Modern English Atlantic: Challenging the persistent notion of linear change in mathematics

Chair: Christine Proust (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
Room: Mondrian 646A

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch Break – buffet
Amphithéatre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)

14:30 – 16:30 Parallel sessions (D)

Panel 11: Theory dependence, models and idealization in measurement
/ ! \ This session starts at 14:00 / ! \

  • Kent Staley (Saint Louis University): An Epistemological function for systematic uncertainty in measurements in high energy physics
  • Alessandro Giordani (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano), Luca Mari (Università Cattaneo): On theory dependence of truth in measurement
  • Qiu Lin (Duke University): Idealization and Measurement: A Comparative case study
    Roman Zdzislaw Morawski (Warsaw University of Technology): Measurement as abduction

Chair: Theodore Porter (University of California, Los Angeles)
Room: Amphithéâtre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)

Panel 12: Errors of measurement in historical perspective

  • Robert Middeke-Conlin (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science): The limits of measured value in Ancient Mesopotamia
  • George Borg (University of Pittsburgh): Accentuating the Positive: Observation and measurement in Kepler’s optics
  • Maarten Bullynck (Université Paris VIII & SPHERE laboratory): The fine distinctions of error. Getting knowledgeable about errors at the crossroads of theory, instrument and observation

Chair: Giora Hon (University of Haifa)
Room: Luc Valentin 454A

Panel 13: Measurement issues in the life sciences

  • Maria Estela Jardim, Nádia Jardim (University of Lisbon): Measuring body functions at the turn of the 19th Century through serial photography and cinema.
  • Caterina Schuerch (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): Quantification – the key to understanding physiological processes
  • Daniel Ott (University of Cambridge): Can Pain Be Measured? Emerging technologies, epistemological uncertainty, and pragmatic realism

Chair: Céline Lefève (University Paris Diderot)
Room: Mondrian 646A

16:30 – 17:00 Coffee Break

17:00 – 18:30 Keynote lecture 3

Karine Chemla (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique): Quantities, standards, measurement and computation. Views from mathematical sources from the ancient world

Chair: Christine Proust (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
Amphithéâtre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)

21:00 Conference dinner

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2018

9:00 – 11:00 Parallel sessions (E)

Panel 14 (symposium): The measurement of non-quantitative properties in the human sciences

  • Joshua McGrane (University of Oxford): An inclusive conception of measurement for the human sciences minus the philosophical baggage
  • Trisha Nowland (Macquarie University):Rough Set Theory for psychometric research: A modest proposal
  • Alex Scharaschkin (University of Oxford): Measurement without quantification? The case of educational assessment

Chair: Mark Wilson (University of California, Berkeley)
Room: Luc Valentin 454A

Panel 15: Reconsidering the Representational theory of measurement

  • Matthias Neuber (University of Tübingen): Helmholtz, Kaila, and the Representational theory of measurement
  • Jean Baccelli (Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy): Beyond the metrological viewpoint
  • Pierre Uzan (SPHERE laboratory): From measurement-representation to measurement as a semantic act

Chair: Michael Heidelberger (University of Tübingen)
Room: Malevitch 483A

Panel 16: Constructing measurement: quantifications, institutions, and numerical notations

  • Daniel Jon Mitchell (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen): The Second quantification of physics
  • Frans Van Lunteren (Vrije Universiteit): The International Bureau of Weights and Measures and the politics of science
  • Qiu Gaoxing (China Jiliang University): Imperial notation and Bodhisattva notation - Illustrated by the example of Avatamsaka Sutra

Chair: Nadine de Courtenay (University Paris Diderot)
Room: Mondrian 483A

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00 Keynote lecture 4

Oliver Schlaudt (University of Heidelberg): “Who is there that doesn’t calculate?” The homo economicus as a measuring instrument

Chair: Emmanuel Didier (ENS & CNRS & EHESS)
Amphithéâtre 310 (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)

The conference will take place in two different buildings (see maps above & below). Both buildings are separated by approximately 200m.
Keynote, roundtable and refreshments : Amphitheater 310,
École Nationale d’Architecture-Paris Val de Seine (ENSA-PVS)
3-15 Quai Panhard et Levassor, 75013 Paris, France

Parallel sessions :
University Paris Diderot, Condorcet building
4, rue Elsa Morante, 75013 Paris