On Structuralism’s Multiple Paths through Spacetime Theories

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):45-66 (2012)
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This essay examines the underdetermination problem that plagues structuralist approaches to spacetime theories, with special emphasis placed on the epistemic brands of structuralism, whether of the scientific realist variety or not. Recent non-realist structuralist accounts, by Friedman and van Fraassen, have touted the fact that different structures can accommodate the same evidence as a virtue vis-à-vis their realist counterparts; but, as will be argued, these claims gain little traction against a properly constructed liberal version of epistemic structural realism. Overall, a broad construal of spacetime theories along epistemic structural realist lines will be defended which draws upon both Friedman’s earlier work and the convergence of approximate structure over theory change, but which also challenges various claims of the ontic structural realists

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Edward Slowik
Winona State University


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