L’étalonnage des instruments de mesure en physique expérimentale : le cas du télescope spatial James Webb

Dissertation, Université de Montréal (2024)
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Abstract

Philosophers and scientists have often adopted the orthodox version of calibration which involves standardizing an instrument using a known phenomenon. The essential link between theoretical concepts and empirical data, in the philosophy of measurement, has generated the formulation of principles of coordination, synthetic a priori, and revisables. Operationalist thinking wanted to limit the scope of concepts to operations of measurement that are actually achievable. The coherentist perspective in the philosophy of measurement has operated a recovery of coordinationist epistemology and operationalism, relying on a minimal number of ontological principles. Models of an instrument involve a commitment to separation between idealized theories and material things. However, philosophers and metrologists have advocated the requirement of a rich theoretical content in the modeling of measuring instruments. According to other contributions, the epistemic privilege of measurement precedes a background theory and its robustness lies in the free contact with empirical data. Moreover, the applicability regime of a theory dictates its boundary conditions, which guide the experimenter in the design of measuring instruments and provide the basis for operationalizing the meaning of theoretical terms. I support operational pluralism, measurement operations involving different physical indicators, accompanied by dynamic coherentism. The James Webb Space Telescope calibration program is a significant case. Observations of calibration stars by various methods are used to calculate the factors that convert a measurement in instrumental units to physical units.

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