, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 213-235

Structural Realism, Scientific Change, and Partial Structures

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Abstract

Scientific change has two important dimensions: conceptual change and structural change. In this paper, I argue that the existence of conceptual change brings serious difficulties for scientific realism, and the existence of structural change makes structural realism look quite implausible. I then sketch an alternative account of scientific change, in terms of partial structures, that accommodates both conceptual and structural changes. The proposal, however, is not realist, and supports a structuralist version of van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism (structural empiricism).