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Noah Stemeroff, “Structural Holism as an Argument Against Structural Realism”
February 28, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Please join us for our February colloquialism, in which Noah Stemeroff will be discussing structural realism:
In this talk, I present a criticism of structural realism, which is a form of scientific realism that suggests that only the mathematical or structural content of scientific theory should be taken to provide a true description of the world. In particular, I argue against the emphasis that structural realists place on individual mathematical equations. I appeal to Duhem and Weyl to defend a view that the interpretation of a mathematical structure is holistic. The basic idea is that it is meaningless to be a realist with respect to a given equation without also being committed to the mathematical structures that are required to give the equation meaning. The problem for the structural realist is that it is not clear that this larger structure is maintained across theory change. This brings into question the viability of structural realism as an answer to the pessimistic meta-induction.