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Is structural underdetermination possible?

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Abstract

Structural realism is sometimes said to undermine the theory underdetermination (TUD) argument against realism, since, in usual TUD scenarios, the supposed underdetermination concerns the object-like theoretical content but not the structural content. The paper explores the possibility of structural TUD by considering some special cases from modern physics, but also questions the validity of the TUD argument itself. The upshot is that cases of structural TUD cannot be excluded, but that TUD is perhaps not such a terribly serious anti-realistic argument.

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Correspondence to Holger Lyre.

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Lyre, H. Is structural underdetermination possible?. Synthese 180, 235–247 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-009-9603-z

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Keywords

  • Theory underdetermination
  • Structural realism
  • Missing physics examples
  • Mathematical overdetermination