Alexandrova and Fabian on the challenge of thick concepts for science
December 13, 2021
An article forthcoming in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science by Anna Alexandrova and Mark Fabian, titled "Democratising Measurement: or Why Thick Concepts Call for Coproduction," discusses the issues that thick concepts, those that involve both description and evaluation, pose for the sciences, using well-being as an example, and proposes a novel way to recognize both aspects.
From the abstract:
Thick concepts, namely those concepts that describe and evaluate simultaneously, present a challenge to science. Since science does not have a monopoly on value judgments, what is responsible research involving such concepts? Using measurement of wellbeing as an example, we first present the options open to researchers wishing to study phenomena denoted by such concepts. We argue that while it is possible to treat these concepts as technical terms, or to make the relevant value judgment in-house, the responsible thing to do, especially in the context of public policy, is to make this value judgment through a legitimate political process that includes all the stakeholders of this research. We then develop a participatory model of measurement based on the ideal of co-production. To show that this model is feasible and realistic, we illustrate it with a case study of co-production of a concept of thriving conducted by the authors in collaboration with a UK anti-poverty charity Turn2us.
Fabian has an excellent Twitter thread tracing out some of the central concepts and findings of the paper here:
Thread on our new paper (with Anna Alexandrova @ExpertiseUnder):— Mark Fabian (@MarkFabian_Cam) December 11, 2021
Democratising measurement: or Why thick concepts call for coproduction
Forthcoming in European Journal for Philosophy of Science. WP: https://t.co/CKjDKMXAt6 pic.twitter.com/RGVNHNg4pI