From Pragmatic Realism to Structural Empiricism

Newton C. A. da Costa and Steven French

in Science and Partial Truth

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780195156515
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785896 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science

 						From Pragmatic Realism to Structural Empiricism

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Ladyman has incorporated partial structures into his version of “structural realism” which he sees as realism's best hope in the face of the ontological perplexities presented by modern physics. On the other side of the divide, Bueno has also used partial structures to elaborate a form of “structural empiricism”, which extends van Fraassen's antirealist “constructive empiricism” in significant respects. This chapter does not aim to defend either realism or antirealism, but to indicate how both sides in the debate can benefit from the partial structures approach. This debate needs just the kind of detailed articulation that structural realism and empiricism offer, and that these positions represent at least two of the more interesting hopes for the future.

Keywords: Ladyman; Bueno; van Fraassen; structural realism; partial structures; antirealist empiricism; antirealism

Chapter.  18905 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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