Tag Archives: measurement

Yew‐Kwang Ng

I have also no difficulties saying that my welfare level is positive, zero, or negative. When I am neither enjoying nor suffering, my welfare is zero. Thus, the value of my welfare is a fully cardinal quantity unique up to a proportionate transformation. I am also sure that I am not bestowed by God or evolution to have this special ability of perceiving the full cardinality (both intensity and the origin) of both my welfare and preference levels. In fact, from my daily experience, observation, and conversation, I know that all people (including ordinalist economists) have this ability, except that economists heavily brainwashed by ordinalism deny it despite actually possessing it. This denial is quite incredible. If your preference is really purely ordinal, you can only say that you prefer your present situation (A) to that plus an ant bite (B) and also prefer the latter to being bodily thrown into a pool of sulphuric acid (C). You cannot say that your preference of A over B is less than your preference of B over C. Can you really believe that!

Yew‐Kwang Ng, ‘A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability’, The Economic Journal, vol. 107, no. 445 (November, 1997), p. 1852

Richard Shryock

Measurement, declared so distinguished an authority as Goethe, could be employed in strictly physical science, but biologic, psychologic and social phenomena necessarily eluded the profane hands of those who would reduce them to quantitative abstractions. Here one detects the feeling that measurement somehow robs human phenomena of all mystery or beauty, and denies to investigators the satisfactions of age-old sense impressions and of intuitive understanding. Such feeling unusually appears within any discipline when it is first threatened, as it were, by quantification. Dr. Stevens terms it, in relation to current psychology, “the nostalgic pain of a romantic yearning to remain securely inscrutable.”

Richard Shryock, ‘The History of Quantification in Medical Science’, in Harry Woolf (ed.) Quantification: A History of the Meaning of Measurement in the Natural and Social Sciences, New York, 1961, p. 93

Robert Recorde

Wherefore in all great works are Clerkes so much desired? Wherefore are Auditors so richly fed? What causeth Geometricians so highly to be enhaunsed? Why are Astronomers so greatly advanced? Because that by number such things they finde, which else would farre excell mans minde.

Robert Recorde, Arithmetic: or, The Ground of Arts, London, 1543, p. 34

Yew-Kwang Ng

I am against the insistence on the purely ordinal measurability of happiness only. In fact, I am not only certain that I am happier now than when I was 30-something, I am also absolutely sure that I am now at least 3 times happier than then. It is difficult to be sure that my happiness now is exactly 3.5 or 4.3 times my happiness then. However, I am pretty sure that it is more than 3 times.

Yew-Kwang Ng, ‘Happiness Studies: Ways to Improve Comparability and Some Public Policy Implications’, The Economic Record, vol. 84, no. 265 (June, 2008), p. 256