The Criterion of Empirical Grounding in the Sciences

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 368)


A scientific theory offers models for the phenomena in its domain; these models involve theoretical quantities of various sorts, and a model’s structure is the set of relations it imposes on these quantities. There is an important, indeed fundamental, demand in scientific practice that those quantities be clearly and feasibly related to measurement procedures. The scientific episodes examined include Galileo’s measurement of the force of the vacuum, Atwood’s machine designed to measure Newtonian theoretical quantities, Michelson and Morley on Fresnel’s hypothesis for light aberration, and time-of-flight measurement in quantum mechanics. The fundamental demand for empirical grounding is then given a precise formulation following this scrutiny of crucial junctures where the role of theory in measurement came clearly to light.


Scientific models Measurement Theory-dependence of measurement Theoretical quantities Empirical grounding 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySan Francisco State University, w/nSan FranciscoUSA

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