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Relations all the way down? Exploring the relata of Ontic Structural Realism Open Access


Other title
Bundle Theory
Ontic Structuralism
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Taylor, Jason D.
Supervisor and department
Rueger, Alexander (Philosophy)
Examining committee member and department
Chakravartty, Anjan (Philosophy)
Morton, Adam (Philosophy)
Linsky, Bernard (Philosophy)
Bulitko, Vadim (Computing Science)
Department of Philosophy

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
An increasing number of realists about science believe that what science really tells us about are the world's structural features. For these realists, then, we should restrict our realist commitments: the theoretical objects described by science are not the kinds of entities towards which we ought to take a stalwart realist stance. Instead, it is the structure in which those objects stand that takes pride of place in our commitments. This is structural realism. Recent years have seen a growing number of structural realists joining James Ladyman (1998) in defense of the claim that structural realism's best formulation is one which insists that in fact there are no objects. Thus, as Ladyman says, we should commit ourselves to the structure, because that is all there is. This is ontic structural realism (OSR). Yet, the very presentation of OSR is jarring: How can we have structure, if there are no objects? Here in, I take up the task of providing a coherent metaphysical underpinning which can help to alleviate the tension that arises with OSR's main ontological postulate. After presenting the motivations for OSR, I argue that the metaphysical view that OSR requires can be found within the old warhorse, bundle theory. I argue that either OSR can embrace the revisionary nature of bundle theory, in which case the task of accounting for the jarring nature of OSR's fundamental claims can be waived; or, one can address the jarring features of OSR by adopting an infinitism regarding the levels of reality. Such a defense still embraces the bundle theoretic approach, while simultaneously accepting the claim that there is no lowest, most fundamental level of reality.
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