Must Structural Realism Cover the Special Sciences?

Conference paper

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-01306-0_31

Part of the The European Philosophy of Science Association Proceedings book series (EPSP, volume 2)
Cite this paper as:
Lyre H. (2013) Must Structural Realism Cover the Special Sciences?. In: Karakostas V., Dieks D. (eds) EPSA11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. The European Philosophy of Science Association Proceedings, vol 2. Springer, Cham


Structural Realism (SR) is typically rated as a moderate realist doctrine about the ultimate entities of nature described by fundamental physics. Whether it must be extended to the higher-level special sciences is not so clear. In this short paper I argue that there is no need to ‘structuralize’ the special sciences. By mounting concrete examples I show that structural descriptions and structural laws certainly play a role in the special sciences, but that they don’t play any exclusive role nor that they give us any reason to believe that all that there is on the various levels is structure. I fortify my points by arguing that structures are global entities (in order for SR not to collapse into a bundle ontology) and that the assumption of higher-level structures as genuinely global or holistic entities is even more arcane.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

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