The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Meaningfulness and Invariance

  • Louis Narens
  • R. Duncan Luce
Reference work entry


Given a qualitative scientific structure, a structure preserving mapping into a numerical, vectorial, or geometric structure is called a representation of it. Within such numerical, vectorial or geometric structures other concepts can always be defined. Some of these correspond to a qualitative property of the underlying system, and they are called ‘meaningful’ concepts. And others do not correspond to a qualitative property; and they are called ‘meaningless’. The article investigates precise meanings of ‘meaningfulness’ and ‘meaninglessness’ and their relation to several notions of invariance, some of which are widely used in science.


Dimensional analysis Interpersonal comparison of utilities Invariance Meaningfulness Measurement Representations Scientific definability 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis Narens
    • 1
  • R. Duncan Luce
    • 1
  1. 1.