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Structuralism and the Quest for Lost Reality

Vos, Bobby (2022) Structuralism and the Quest for Lost Reality. Journal for General Philosophy of Science. ISSN 0925-4560

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Abstract

The structuralist approach represents the relation between a model and physical system as a relation between two mathematical structures. However, since a physical system is prima facie not a mathematical structure, the structuralist approach seemingly fails to represent the fact that science is about concrete, physical reality. In this paper, I take up this problem of lost reality and suggest how it may be solved in a purely structuralist fashion. I start by briefly introducing both the structuralist approach and the problem of lost reality and discussing the various (non-structuralist) solutions that have been proposed in the literature. Following this, I decompose the problem into the ontological mismatch and specification problems. In response to the former, I present a metascientific dissolution argument, according to which the difference in kind between mathematical structures and physical systems poses no deep obstacle to the structuralist approach, and consider some upshots of this argument for our views on representation. By way of conclusion, I argue that the metascientific dissolution argument paves the way for a solution to the specification problem as well.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Vos, Bobbybfmv2@cam.ac.uk0000-0002-4548-3507
Keywords: Structuralism; Lost reality; Metascience; Inferentialism
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Bobby Vos
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2022 15:17
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2022 15:17
Item ID: 21493
Journal or Publication Title: Journal for General Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10838-0...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10838-022-09604-7
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: 25 November 2022
ISSN: 0925-4560
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21493

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