Journal Article

Group Structural Realism

Bryan W. Roberts

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 1, pages 47-69
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online October 2010 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Group Structural Realism

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We present a precise form of structural realism, called group structural realism, which identifies ‘structure’ in quantum theory with symmetry groups. However, working out the details of this view actually illuminates a major problem for structural realism; namely, a structure can itself have structure. This article argues that, once a precise characterization of structure is given, the ‘metaphysical hierarchy’ on which group structural realism rests is overly extravagant and ultimately unmotivated.

1 Introduction

2 What is (Group) Structural Realism?

2.1 The basic picture

2.2 Wigner’s legacy

2.3 Accounting for theory change

3 The ‘Higher Structures’ Problem

3.1 The structure of a structure

3.2 Higher structures and theory change

3.3 Any way out for the groupies?

3.3.1 Chopping down the tower

3.3.2 Playing favorites

3.3.3 Adopting the whole shebang

4 Conclusion


Journal Article.  8845 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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