Journal Article

Newman's Objection

Peter M. Ainsworth

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 60, issue 1, pages 135-171
Published in print March 2009 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Newman's Objection

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This paper is a review of work on Newman's objection to epistemic structural realism (ESR). In Section 2, a brief statement of ESR is provided. In Section 3, Newman's objection and its recent variants are outlined. In Section 4, two responses that argue that the objection can be evaded by abandoning the Ramsey-sentence approach to ESR are considered. In Section 5, three responses that have been put forward specifically to rescue the Ramsey-sentence approach to ESR from the modern versions of the objection are discussed. Finally, in Section 6, three responses are considered that are neutral with respect to one's approach to ESR and all argue (in different ways) that the objection can be evaded by introducing the notion that some relations/structures are privileged over others. It is concluded that none of these suggestions is an adequate response to Newman's objection, which therefore remains a serious problem for ESRists.


Epistemic Structural Realism 2.1

Ramsey-sentences and ESR



The Objection 3.1

Newman's version


Demopoulos and Friedman's and Ketland's versions

Replies that Abandon the Ramsey-Sentence Approach to ESR 4.1

Redhead's reply


French and Ladyman's reply

Replies Designed to Rescue the Ramsey-Sentence Approach 5.1

Zahar's reply


Cruse's reply


Melia and Saatsi's reply

Replies that Argue that Some Structures/Relations are Privileged 6.1

A Carnapian reply


Votsis' reply


The Merrill/Lewis/Psillos reply


Journal Article.  15299 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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