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No categorial support for radical ontic structural realism

Lam, Vincent and Wuthrich, Christian (2013) No categorial support for radical ontic structural realism. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Radical ontic structural realism (ROSR) asserts an ontological commitment to 'free-standing' physical structures understood solely in terms of fundamental relations, without any recourse to relata which stand in these relations. Bain (2011) has recently defended ROSR against the common charge of incoherence by arguing that a reformulation of fundamental physical theories in category-theoretic terms (rather than the usual set-theoretic ones) offers a coherent and precise articulation of the commitments accepted by ROSR. In this essay, we argue that category theory does not offer a more hospitable environment to ROSR than set theory. We also show that the application of category-theoretic tools to topological quantum field theory and to algebraic generalisations of general relativity do not warrant the claim that these theories describe 'object-free' structures. We conclude that category theory offers little if any comfort to ROSR.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Lam, Vincentvincent.lam@unil.ch
Wuthrich, Christianwuthrich@ucsd.edu
Additional Information: 22 pages
Keywords: radical ontic structural realism, category-theoretic structure, topological quantum field theory, spacetime structuralism, category of Einstein structured spaces, algebraic generalisations of general relativity
Subjects: General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Christian Wuthrich
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2013 15:29
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2013 15:29
Item ID: 9828
Subjects: General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: 2013
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9828

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