The philosophical significance attached to the construction of systems of units has traditionally been confined to the notion of convention, while their adoption was considered to be the exclusive province of the history and sociology of science. Against this tradition, a close articulation between history, philosophy, and sociology of science is needed in order to analyse the recent reform of the International system of units (SI). In the new SI, units are redefined on the basis of certain fundamental constants of nature, established by physical theories, whose values are fixed without uncertainty. The purpose of this article is to show that the redefinition of SI units, far from being a convention, involves a holistic reconstruction of our concepts of quantities from accepted theoretical laws. Fixing the values of the defining constants stabilizes these laws within the framework of physics through a twofold adjustment procedure that ensures both a semantic coordination between theory and world and an intersubjective coordination between human agents required by social activities. This double adjustment results in closely entwining the pursuit of truth as correspondence and truth as coherence which turn out to be complementary, thus highlighting the anthropological underpinnings of scientific realism.

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