JOHN WORRALL case of realism’s ‘explanation’ of the success of our current theories there can of course be no question of any independent tests. Scientific. Structural realism was introduced into contemporary philosophy of science by John Worrall in as a way to break the impasse that results. (1) Epistemic Structural Realism, or ESR for short, holds that our epistemic by the publication of John Worrall’s ‘Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?.

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Worrall and Elie Zahar favour the Ramsey sentence approach, relaism Ioannis Votsisrejects it realksm favour of the notion of abstract structure as it is explicated in Michael Redhead Most defenders of ESR assume that there must be individual objects and properties that are ontologically prior to relational structure. This is natural since, while Worrall’s motivation for introducing structural realism was solely the need for a realist response to the pessimistic meta-induction, French and Ladyman introduced OSR to describe a form of structural realism motivated by two further problems: Furthermore, this theory radically disconnects what a theorist is talking about from what she thinks she is talking about.

Structural Realism

In particular, he thought that the unobservable entities postulated by scientific theories were Kant’s noumena or things in themselves. Kerry McKenzie forthcoming uses Fine’s recent analyses of ontological dependence to argue against eliminativist OSR and in favour of moderate structural realism based on a case study from particle jihn.

Yet more kinds of structuralism now abound in contemporary analytic philosophy. Joanna Wolff considers the relationship between objects and structures, arguing that the former are not reducible to the latter and suggesting that a form of ontic structural realism may be defended in terms of the claim that objects are ontologically dependent on structures. Theories can be very different and yet share all kinds of structure.


There are interesting connections with debates in metaphysics, philosophy of physics and philosophy of mathematics. There have been many empirically successful theories in the history of science which have subsequently been rejected and whose theoretical terms do not refer according to our best current theories. The most common realist response to this argument is to restrict realism to theories with some further properties usually, maturity, and novel predictive success so as to cut down the inductive base employed in i see Psillos Ryckman describes the history of relativity theory and Weyl’s role in it.

It is arguable that this is the purest structuralism possible, for the rdalism of structure employed refers to the higher-order properties of a theory, those that are only expressible in purely formal terms. The no-miracles argument is elaborated in terms of specific features of scientific methodology and practice. In other words, the question is, how can you have structure without individuals, or, strictural particular, how can we talk about a group without talking about the elements of a group?

The best of both worlds? Michael Esfeld— argues against any gap between epistemology and metaphysics. See Structueal and Ladyman Mark Newman – – Philosophy of Science 72 5: The only way to attain knowledge of the external world is to draw inferences from our perceptions.

Alexander Bird’s theory of dispositions johj in some ways structuralist. This is a standard metaphysical position that implies nothing so radical as any version of OSR.

John Worrall, Structural realism: The best of both worlds? – PhilPapers

The relation of having opposite spin that is had by electrons in the singlet state is clearly such an irreflexive relation and Saunders argues that, since by Leibniz’s law, the holding worral an irreflexive relation a R b entails the existence of distinct relata a and bthen the electrons are individuals, even though in so far as they are individuals it is the relations among them that account for this.


Stathis Psillos has explored the connections between structuralism and the Ramsey-sentence approach to scientific theory as it figured in the development of Carnap’s philosophy from logical positivism to ontologically relativist empiricism.

He goes on to note that his favoured interpretation of gauge theories in terms of non-separable holonomies is one according to which the fundamental objects are ontologically secondary to structure because the objects of a theory are members of equivalence classes under symmetry transformations and strucutral further individuation of objects is possible. Field quantities are usually attributed to space-time points or regions. Naturalists argue that we should reject metaphysical doctrines if they are not supported by science.


Thus, on this view, elementary particles are hypostatisations of sets of quantities that are invariant under the symmetry groups of particle physics.

Russell’s upward path is defended by Votsis Ontological discontinuity in theory change seems to give us grounds not for mere agnosticism but for the positive belief that many central theoretical terms of our best contemporary science will be regarded as non-referring by future science.

Enhanced bibliography for this entry at PhilPaperswith links to its database. We have as much reason to expect p to befall their fate as not, therefore we should at least suspend judgement about p if not actively disbelieve it. Hence, others have sought to modify the substantivalism. This leaves open the question as to whether the natures of things are posited to be unknowable for some reason or eliminated altogether.