Evolution of philosophy and description of measurement (preliminary rationale for VIM3)

Research paper by Charles Ehrlich, René Dybkaer, Wolfgang Wöger

Indexed on: 01 Mar '07Published on: 01 Mar '07Published in: Accreditation and Quality Assurance


Different approaches to the philosophy and description of measurement have evolved over time, and they are still evolving. There is not always a clear demarcation between approaches, but rather a blending of concepts and terminologies from one approach to another. This sometimes causes confusion when trying to ascertain the objective of measurement in the different approaches, since the same term may be used to describe different concepts in the different approaches. Important examples include the terms “value,” “true value,” “error,” “probability” and “uncertainty.” Constructing a single vocabulary of metrology that is able to unambiguously encompass and harmonize all of the approaches is therefore difficult, if not impossible. This paper examines the evolution of common philosophies and ways of describing measurement. Some of the differences between these approaches are highlighted, which provides a rationale for the entries and structure of the August 2006 draft of the 3rd Edition of the International Vocabulary of Metrology – Basic and General Concepts and Associated Terms (VIM3) [1].