Pluralist structural realism: The best of both worlds?
Worrall (Dialectica 43(1–2):99–124, 1989) famously claimed that structural realism is the best of both worlds; it enables one to endorse the best arguments for scientific realism and antirealism. In this paper, I argue that structural realism also enables one to combine two other seemingly inconsistent positions: realism and pluralism. Indeed, the very features which form the basis of the structural realist’s reply to the problem of theory change may be applied synchronically to allow for a pluralist structural realism. The resulting position incorporates a robust variety of scientific pluralism unavailable to the traditional realist and thereby allows the structural realist to take seriously the pluralism apparent in scientific practice.
KeywordsStructural realism Scientific pluralism Scientific realism Quantum field theory
Thanks to Anjan Chakravartty and the audience at the conference Scientific Knowledge Under Pluralism at the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 for providing the stimulus for this work. For their invaluable feedback on this work, thanks to Zee Perry, Alyssa Ney, Will Starr, Dean Rickles, Holger Lyre and audiences at the 2018 APA Pacific in San Diego, the 2018 Desert Philosophy Workshop in Sedona, and the symposium Structural Realism Meets Structural Representation at the University of Sydney in 2019.
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