Scientific Structuralism (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science) (Volume 281)

Scientific Structuralism (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science) (Volume 281)

Language: English

Pages: 182

ISBN: 9400733984

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Recently there has been a revival of interest in structuralist approaches to science. Taking their lead from scientific structuralists such as Henri Poincaré, Ernst Cassirer, and Bertrand Russell, some contemporary philosophers and scientists have argued that the most fruitful approach to solving many problems in the philosophy of science lies in focusing on the structural features of our scientific theories. Much of the work in scientific structuralism to date has been focused on the problem of scientific realism, where it has been argued that even in cases of radical theory change the most important structural features of predecessor theories are preserved. These structural realists argue that what our most successful theories get right about the world is these abstract structural features, rather than any particular ontological claims. More recently, philosophers of science have adopted structuralist approaches to many other issues in the philosophy of science, such as scientific explanation and intertheory relations. The nine articles collected in this volume, written by the leading researchers in scientific structuralism, represent some of the most important directions of research in this field. This book will be of particular interest to those philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians who are interested in the foundations of science.

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arguments: the realist ‘no miracle’ argument, and the antirealist ‘pessimistic meta-induction’. Given the neo-Kantian perspective I have been urging, new light can be cast on these two arguments. As we saw, the core of the ‘no miracle’ argument consists in showing that there is a crucial two-way relationship between reference and success: reference explains success, and success in turn warrants a presumption of reference. However, the main problem that the received view of structural realism

of the critic of OSR has to do with the structural realist’s supposed indifference to the instantiation of ‘first order’ (intrinsic) properties such as mass and charge (Busch 2003). The underlying concern here is that ‘second order’ structural properties are relations among first order ones which in turn are possessed by objects, and if the latter are abandoned, then the whole structural edifice is put in jeopardy. Clearly, there is potential question-begging here. Obviously a structuralist will

in equal measure to the second explication of VS, to which we are about to turn. 33 132 M. Thomson-Jones To round out the discussion of the first explication of vehicle structuralism, and segue into the second, consider again the use of the real line to represent time. Suppose that in place of Platonism, we adopt a structuralist view of mathematical discourse. Then it is still true that we are singling out a structure when we say “Consider the real line…”; but on the mathematical

situation: there are no intrinsic properties that distinguish each time instant from all the other ones. But the irreflexive and asymmetric relation “earlier than” does so. (c) Neither intrinsic properties nor relations provide for identity conditions of the fundamental physical objects: two or more fundamental physical objects can have all the same intrinsic properties and stand in the same relations. This description has to be further qualified in view of what is known as weak discernibility

irreflexive relation between the two objects. Nonetheless, the fact that the relation is irreflexive makes clear that there are two objects and not just one object, since nothing can stand in an irreflexive relation to itself. Consequently, weak discernibility tells us how many objects there are in the domain under consideration and thus gives us an epistemic, empirical access to these objects, but it does not distinguish these objects from each other. As Ladyman and Bigaj (2010) recently put it:

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