Chakravartty, Anjan (2002) The Structuralist Conception of Objects. [Preprint]
This paper explores the consequences of the two most prominent forms of contemporary structural realism for the notion of objecthood. Epistemic structuralists hold that we can know structural aspects of reality, but nothing about the natures of the relata whose relations define structures. Ontic structuralists hold that we can know structural aspects of reality, and that there is nothing else to know - objects are useful heuristic posits, but are ultimately ontologically dispensable. I argue that neither of these forms of structuralism succeed in ridding a structuralist ontology of objects. What structural realism implies is not that objects do not exist, but rather that objects should be understood structurally. The question of how we get from the "nodes" of detected structures to a conception of objecthood may have different answers, depending on the putative objects and problems under investigation. Scientific developments shed light on the ontological natures of particulars, but objects in general comprise a heterogeneous kind.
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