BBS Call for Commentators: Murray/psychophysics

Stevan Harnad harnad at PRINCETON.EDU
Wed Apr 8 11:42:00 EST 1992

Below is the abstract of a forthcoming target article to appear in
Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), an international, interdisciplinary
journal that provides Open Peer Commentary on important and
controversial current research in the biobehavioral and cognitive
sciences. Commentators must be current BBS Associates or nominated by a
current BBS Associate. To be considered as a commentator on this
article, to suggest other appropriate commentators, or for information
about how to become a BBS Associate, please send email to:

harnad at clarity.princeton.edu  or harnad at pucc.bitnet        or write to:
BBS, 20 Nassau Street, #240, Princeton NJ 08542  [tel: 609-921-7771]

To help us put together a balanced list of commentators, please give some
indication of the aspects of the topic on which you would bring your
areas of expertise to bear if you were selected as a commentator. An
electronic draft of the full text is available for inspection by anonymous
ftp according to the instructions that follow after the abstract.


                    David J. Murray
      Department of Psychology, Queen's University
           Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6

Keywords: Delboeuf, distinctiveness, Fechner, history of psychology,
measurement, philosophy of science, psychophysics, Stevens, sensation.

The research that resulted from Fechner's psychophysics followed three
main lines to the present day: (i) one was concerned with "outer
psychophysics," devoted to the evaluation of Fechner's logarithmic law,
Delboeuf's variant of Fechner's law, and Plateau's power law; (ii) one
was concerned with "inner psychophysics", including criticisms of the
validity of threshold measurements, which ultimately led to signal
detection theory; and (iii) one line arose from the claim of Von Kries
(1882) and others that "sensation strength" could not be "measured,"
culminating in modern measurement theory. Two theoretical issues
important in the nineteenth century are discussed in the light of
modern evidence: the role of "sensation strength" in the representation
of psychophysical judgments data, and the question of whether we can
decide between psychophysical laws on the basis of observations of
visual contrasts when the overall illumination is changed.


To help you decide whether you would be an appropriate commentator for
this article, a (nonfinal) draft is retrievable by anonymous ftp from
princeton.edu according to the instructions below (the filename is
bbs.murray). Please do not prepare a commentary on this draft. Just
let us know, after having inspected it, what relevant expertise you
feel you would bring to bear on what aspect of the article.

        To retrieve a file by ftp from a Unix/Internet site,
	type either:
ftp princeton.edu
        When you are asked for your login, type:
        For your password, type your real name.
        then change directories with:
cd pub/harnad
        To show the available files, type:
        Next, retrieve the file you want with (for example):
get bbs.murray
        When you have the file(s) you want, type:

JANET users can use the Internet file transfer utility at JANET node
UK.AC.FT-RELAY to get BBS files. Use standard file transfer, setting
the site to be UK.AC.FT-RELAY, the userid as anonymous at edu.princeton,
the password as your own userid, and the remote filename to be the
filename according to Unix conventions (e.g. pub/harnad/bbs.article).
Lower case should be used where indicated, using quotes if necessary to
avoid automatic translation into upper case.

        The above cannot be done form Bitnet directly, but there
        is a fileserver called bitftp at pucc.bitnet that will do
        it for you. Send it the one line message
        for instructions (which will be similar to the above,
        but will be in the form of a series of lines in an
        email message that bitftp will then execute for you).

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