Operationalism / Operationism

Discipline: Philosophy

Theory due to American physicist Percy Williams Bridgman (1882-1961) and saying that scientific concepts must be defined in terms of the operations by which they are measured or applied.

The theory is akin to the verifiability principle in its strongest form, identifying meaning with method of verification; but applies to concepts rather than sentences or propositions, and is in the spirit of logical positivism.

It has untoward results, such as that length as measured by astronomers is a different concept from length as measured by ordinary people using a tape-measure.

P W Bridgman, The Logic of Modern Physics (1927)


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