The Present Situation in the Philosophy of Science

Volume 1 of the series The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective pp 381-397


Humean Perspectives on Structural Realism

  • Holger LyreAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Bielefeld Email author 

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Structural Realism (SR) is a moderate variant of scientific realism and can roughly be captured by the idea that we should be committed to the structural rather than object-like content of our best current scientific theories. A quick view on the list of some of the main proponents shows that SR is basically a European philosophy of science movement (and just suits our ESF Programme): John Worrall, Ioannis Votsis, Steven French, Angelo Cei, James Ladyman, Simon Saunders, Michael Esfeld, Vincent Lam, Katherine Brading, Mauro Dorato, Dean Rickles, Fred Muller, and – exceptions prove the rule – Anjan Chakravartty and John Stachel. The list is of course not exhaustive, moreover, the debate has a broad periphery. A notable example of this is Bas van Fraassen’s structural empiricism. The paper is a kind of opinionated review paper. In what follows I will pass through the most prevailing topics in recent debates over SR. My discussion will be organised, perhaps a bit unorthodoxly, in short sections, here and then I will outline my own views.