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Looking for structure in all the wrong places: Ramsey sentences, multiple realisability, and structure

Cei, A. and French, S. (2006) Looking for structure in all the wrong places: Ramsey sentences, multiple realisability, and structure. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 37 (4). pp. 633-655. ISSN 0039-3681

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‘Epistemic structural realism’ (ESR) insists that all that we know of the world is its structure, and that the ‘nature’ of the underlying elements remains hidden. With structure represented via Ramsey sentences, the question arises as to how ‘hidden natures’ might also be represented. If the Ramsey sentence describes a class of realisers for the relevant theory, one way of answering this question is through the notion of multiple realisability. We explore this answer in the context of the work of Carnap, Hintikka and Lewis. Both Carnap and Hintikka offer clear structuralist perspectives which, crucially, accommodate the openness inherent in theory change. Unfortunately there is little purchase for a viable form of realism in either case. Lewis’s approach, on the other hand, offers more scope for realism but, as we shall see, concerns arise as to whether a relevant form of structuralism can be maintained. In particular his thesis of Ramseyan humility undermines certain conceptions of scientific laws that the structural realist might naturally cleave to. Our overall conclusion is that the representational device of Ramsey sentence plus multiple realisability can accommodate either the structuralist or realist aspects of ESR but has difficulties capturing both.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Copyright © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. This is an author produced version of a paper subsequently published in 'Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.'
Keywords: structural realism, Ramsey sentence, multiple realisability
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds) > Division of the History and Philosophy of Science (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2014 04:30
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsa.2006.09.006
Status: Published
Publisher: Elsevier
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2006.09.006
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2001

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