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Representation and Realism: On Being a Structuralist All the Way (Up and) Down

French, Steven (2019) Representation and Realism: On Being a Structuralist All the Way (Up and) Down. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Van Fraassen’s Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective presents a structural empiricist approach to scientific representation. As he notes, in order to pin that representation down to an actual situation, we must supplement our ‘God-like’ reflections on the structure with some further specifying feature. In this essay I consider what that further feature might be, across a range of circumstances, from those having to do with the Semantic Approach in general, to the characterisation of structural realism and, finally, to the challenge set by van Fraassen in the form of the ‘Appearances from Reality’ criterion in the context of quantum mechanics. I agree with van Fraassen that having to introduce some such feature is no threat to the structuralist project in general, whether in realist or empiricist guise but would maintain that the realist also has the resources to satisfy the above criterion. The issue then is whether such further resources should be taken to be a constitutive part of the theory or not. Reflection on this reveals that underpinning this whole discussion is a certain view of theories as things that have well-defined identity conditions and in conclusion I suggest that dropping this demand will be a liberating move in all sorts of respects.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
French, StevenS.R.D.French@leeds.ac.uk
Keywords: Representation realism structure Semantic approach Everett measurement problem
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Professor Steven French
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2019 14:51
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2019 14:51
Item ID: 16433
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: 16 September 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16433

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