Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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The Epistemology of Psychological Measurement (27 June 2022)

Idea & Motivation

In the physical sciences precision measurement is the gold standard of evidential support and theory confirmation. In the psychological sciences, however, measurement has had a fraught history. Psychophysics and its behaviorist / operationalist allies found ways to quantify psychologically relevant behavior—indeed this tradition spawned much foundational work in measurement, including Stevens’ hierarchy of scales and the Representational Theory of Measurement. Nevertheless, the significance of the numbers assigned to psychological states has been hotly contested: psychological states cannot be conjoined or juxtaposed in the way that physical magnitudes can, consequently, operations performed meaningfully on numerical quantities, such as addition, do not have any direct operational correlate for psychological quantities. This battle rages today primarily over the practices of psychometrics, and whether the numbers it assigns to putative psychological quantities, such as intelligence, emotional state, or personality traits, have any meaning.

This conference aims to explore the distinctive features of psychological measurement, asking what can we know from psychological measurement? What legitimates (or not) assigning numbers to psychological quantities? Is measurement in psychology epistemically, ethically, or ontologically different from that in the physical sciences? What are the conditions of success for psychological measurement?

Invited Speakers


June 27
09:00-10:00 Matteo Colombo (Tilburg): Noisy Measurement for Bayesian brains
10:00-11:00 Johanna Sarisoy (Edinburgh): An Attempt at Defining Replications
11:00-11:30 coffee break
11:30-12:30 Matthias Michel (NYU): Psychometric Drifts in Psychiatric Research
12:30-14:00 lunch
14:00-15:00 Cristian Larroulet Philippi (Cambridge): Quantifying Human Attributes? Mapping out the Terrain
15:00-16:00 Morgan Thompson (Bielefeld): Path-Dependence in Measurement: A Problem for Coherentism
16:00-16:30 coffee break
16:30-17:30 Eran Tal and Sebastian Rodriguez Duque (McGill):
Fitness for purpose in psychometrics
19:00 conference dinner


Call for Abstracts

Deadline for abstracts: May 25
Notification of acceptance: June 1

Please submit an extended abstract of 500–800 words, for a talk of 30-40 minutes.

Send abstracts to Johanna Sarisoy at


If public health regulations will allow it the conference will be held in person, though we are preparing to hold a hybrid event should some participants prefer to participate remotely.

Please register via our online tool before June 26th. Note that participation is only possible after confirmed registration.



IBZ (Internationales Begegnungszentrum der Wissenschaft München)
Amalienstraße 38
80799 München


For information about practical matters and registration, please contact Office.Leitgeb


The conference is generously funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the MCMP.