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Can Structure Save Scientific Realism?

Delhotel, Jean-Michel (2009) Can Structure Save Scientific Realism? [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    Physics appears to be in a unique position to withstand antirealist attacks, especially ‘pessimistic induction’ arguments. Such resilience provides an incentive for embracing a ‘structural’ variant of scientific realism. Nevertheless, an examination of the physics-mathematics relationship suggests that whatever determines the success of modelling endeavours lends scant support to structural realism. A closer look at conceptual prerequisites of joint ab initio derivations of (i) Galilean and ‘special’ relativity theories and (ii) classical and ‘quantal’ probabilistic frameworks also fosters scepticism about a major claim of structural realists: that mathematical features of theoretical frameworks – those, in particular, which determine their predictive efficiency – are ultimately rooted in ‘structural’ aspects of the natural world. Further concerns with the central tenets of structural realism are finally briefly addressed, and the question of possible non-instrumentalist alternatives is raised.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: Structural Realism pessimistic induction structure physical theories
    Subjects: General Issues > Structure of Theories
    Specific Sciences > Physics
    General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
    General Issues > Theory Change
    Depositing User: Jean-Michel Delhotel
    Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2010
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:19
    Item ID: 5308
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/5308

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