Kinds of Objects and Varieties of Properties
The modern debate around scientific structuralism has revealed the need to reassess the standing and role of both structure and objects in the metaphysics of physics. Ontic structural realism recommends that metaphysics be purged of objects. Nonetheless, its proponents have failed to specify what it means for properties to be relational and structural, and, consequently, to show how the elementary objects postulated by our best theories can be re-conceptualized in structural terms or altogether eliminated. In this chapter, I draw from modern physics in order to untangle various types of relational properties and propose conditions that should be fulfilled for properties to be characterized as structural properties.
KeywordsQuantum Mechanic Irreducible Representation Entangle State Individual Object Interaction Charge
The work that resulted in this paper begun in preparation for the Banff Workshop on ‘Structure, Objects, and Causality’. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 5th Meeting of Pittsburgh Fellows, at the Notre Dame workshop ‘Structuralism in Physics’ and at the colloquium of the department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Athens. I would like to thank the organizers and participants of all these events for extremely beneficial (to me at least) comments and discussions. Special thanks go to Aris Arageorgis, Katherine Brading, Elena Castellani, Ron Giere, Steven French, Elaine Landry, Matteo Morganti, F. A. Muller, Stathis Psillos and Vassilis Sakelariou for helpful comments and constructive criticisms. I would also like to acknowledge my substantial intellectual debt to Serge Rudaz. This work owes a lot to his unparalleled grasp of physics and to his eagerness to share this knowledge with me. At its latest stages, the research leading to this paper was funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007-2013] under grant agreement n°229825.
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