Motivating structural realist interpretations of spacetime

Abstract

Motivated by examples from general relativity and Newtonian gravitation, this essay attempts to distinguish between the dynamical structure associated with a theory in physics, and its kinematical structure. This enables a distinction to be made between a structural realist interpretation of a theory based on its dynamical structure, and a structural realist interpretation of spacetime, as described by a theory, based on its kinematical structure. I offer category-theoretic formulations of dynamical and kinematical structure and indicate the extent to which such formulations deflect recent criticism of the radical ontic structural realist's conception of structure as "relations devoid of relata".

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2009-06-20

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Jonathan Bain
New York University

Citations of this work

Ontic structural realism as a metaphysics of objects.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2011 - In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 143-159.
On Structuralism’s Multiple Paths through Spacetime Theories.Edward Slowik - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):45-66.

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References found in this work

Points, particles, and structural realism.Oliver Pooley - 2005 - In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha T. Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford University Press. pp. 83--120.
Realism about what?Roger Jones - 1991 - Philosophy of Science 58 (2):185-202.
Challenging the spacetime structuralist.Christian Wüthrich - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (5):1039-1051.
The representation of time and change in mechanics.Gordon Belot - 2005 - In John Earman & Jeremy Butterfield (eds.), Philosophy of Physics. Elsevier. pp. 133--227.

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