Vi*-Structure as a Weapon of the Realist1

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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References found in this work

What is structural realism?James Ladyman - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (3):409-424.
Empirical adequacy and ramsification.Jeffrey Ketland - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):287-300.
The Structuralist Conception of Objects.Anjan Chakravartty - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):867-878.
Is structural realism possible?Stathis Psillos - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S13-S24.

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