Journal Article

Empirical Adequacy and Ramsification

Jeffrey Ketland

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 55, issue 2, pages 287-300
Published in print June 2004 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Empirical Adequacy and Ramsification

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Structural realism has been proposed as an epistemological position interpolating between realism and sceptical anti-realism about scientific theories. The structural realist who accepts a scientific theory Θ thinks that Θ is empirically correct, and furthermore is a realist about the ‘structural content’ of Θ. But what exactly is ‘structural content’? One proposal is that the ‘structural content’ of a scientific theory may be associated with its Ramsey sentence ℜ(Θ). However, Demopoulos and Friedman have argued, using ideas drawn from Newman's earlier criticism of Russell's structuralism, that this move fails to achieve an interesting intermediate position between realism and anti-realism. Rather, ℜ(Θ) adds little content beyond the instrumentalistically acceptable claim that the theory Θ is empirically adequate. Here, I formulate carefully the crucial claim of Demopoulos and Friedman, and show that the Ramsey sentence ℜ(Θ) is true just in case Θ possesses a full model which is empirically correct and satisfies a certain cardinality condition on its theoretical domain. This suggests that structural realism is not a position significantly different from the anti-realism it attempts to distinguish itself from.


Technical framework


Empirical adequacy

Ramsification ≈ empirical adequacy + cardinality constraint


Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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