In the literature over the Ramsey-sentence approach to structural realism, there is often debate over whether structural realists can legitimately restrict the range of the second-order quantifiers, in order to avoid the Newman problem. In this paper, I argue that even if they are allowed to, it won’t help: even if the Ramsey sentence is interpreted using such restricted quantifiers, it is still an implausible candidate to capture a theory’s structural content. To do so, I use the following observation: if a Ramsey sentence did encode a theory’s structural content, then two theories would be structurally equivalent just in case they have logically equivalent Ramsey sentences. I then argue that this criterion for structural equivalence is implausible, even where frame or Henkin semantics are used.
First, thanks to Hans Halvorson for significant help with beginning this project; I’m also grateful for comments and criticisms from Thomas Barrett, two anonymous referees for this journal, and the audience at the 2017 Salzburg-Irvine-Munich Workshop on Scientific Philosophy.
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