Theodore Sider

in Writing the Book of the World

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697908
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732096 | DOI:

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Although a rich theory of structure can be given, there is no good reductive definition of structure. Some worry that this primitivism would prevent our understanding talk of structure, but this is based on a misguided conception of understanding. We understand many words we can’t define, since we understand their conceptual role. Others worry that the primitivism would prevent us from knowing anything about structure. But an epistemology of structure can be given: we should take notions to carve at the joints when they are indispensable in our best fundamental theories. If structure cannot be defined then why believe in it? Because believing in it ‐ positing it ‐ enhances our understanding of the world.

Keywords: primitivism; epistemology; indispensability; understanding; physical; ideology

Chapter.  5643 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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