Structure as a weapon of the realist

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (2):167–185 (2006)
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Although much of its history has been neglected or misunderstood, a structuralist 'tendency' has re-emerged within the philosophy of science. Broadly speaking, it consists of two fundamental strands: on the one hand, there is the identification of structural commonalities between theories; on the other, there is the metaphysical decomposition of objects in structural terms. Both have been pressed into service for the realist cause: the former has been identified primarily with Worrall's 'epistemic' structural realism; the latter with Ladyman's 'ontic' form. And both raise important issues of general interest within the philosophy of science and metaphysics, respectively. The former invites questions regarding the identification and appropriate representation of these commonalities; the latter touches on different views regarding the nature of objects, the constitutive role of properties and the seat of causal powers. Both strands have recently come under critical fire. It is my intention to present a unified account of the 'structuralist tendency' which emphasizes the dual roles of structure as representational and constitutive, and to indicate how the more acute critical remarks can be dealt with



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Steven French
University of Leeds

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Laws of Nature as Constraints.Emily Adlam - 2022 - Foundations of Physics 52 (1):1-41.
Scientific Realism.Anjan Chakravartty - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Scientific Realism.Richard Boyd - 1984 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 21 (1&2):767-791.

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