On the Preferability of Epistemic Structural Realism

Synthese 142 (1):81-107 (2004)
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In the last decade, structural realism has been presented as the most promising strategy for developing a defensible realist view of science. Nevertheless, controversy still continues in relation to the exact meaning of the proposed structuralism. The stronger version of structural realism, the so-called ontic structural realism, has been argued for on the basis of some ideas related to quantum mechanics. In this paper, I will first outline these arguments, mainly developed by Steven French and James Ladyman, then challenge them, putting a particular emphasis on a metaphysical principle which, even though it is crucial for the whole argument, hasn't been, in my opinion, clearly stated and examined yet. My overall view will be that a weaker version of the form of realism we are considering is more plausible – namely, epistemic structural realism.
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