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

  • Author / Creator
    Taylor, Jason D.
  • 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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  • Graduation date
    Spring 2012
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
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  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Morton, Adam (Philosophy)
    • Linsky, Bernard (Philosophy)
    • Bulitko, Vadim (Computing Science)
    • Chakravartty, Anjan (Philosophy)