SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

What's Really Wrong with Ontic Structural Realism? On the Possibility of Reading off Ontology from Current Fundamental Science
(Philosophy of Science, English)

I argue that the central conflict between epistemic (ESR) and ontic (OSR) versions of structural realism concerns whether it is possible to read off ontology from current fundamental science. After I set up this fundamental conflict, I look at two challenges for the ontic version in the philosophy of physics. The first one is due to Ainsworth. According to him, there is no interpretation of modern physics that shows the ontological superiority of structures over objects. Although I find Ainsworth's criticism quite convincing, for the sake of argument, I assume that advocates of OSR could somehow show that relations are ontologically prior to relata in modern physics. However, endorsing this priority relation might not be sufficient to justify the ontic structuralist claim that there are just structures "all the way down". This second challenge is related to a realist interpretation of quantum entanglement provided by Bub. The crucial idea is that entanglement should be taken as a new physical primitive in the sense that it does not supervene on any other physical source. After I explain why the conclusion of Bub's argument is a challenge for OSR, I again assume that proponents might find a way out to show that Bub's discussion does not deal a blow to OSR. Finally, I claim that even if it is considered that OSR survives both challenges, this assumption still does not say anything about the possibility of reading off ontology from current fundamental science. After I write down premises and conclusions of OSR and ESR, I show that the conclusion as regards to the possibility of reading off ontology from modern science in the ontic version is already assumed in one of the premises; hence the argument begs the question. As a result, the problem of ontological discontinuity throughout radical theory changes in the history of science remains intact in the ontic version.

Chair: Aleksandra Gomułczak
Time: 14:00-14:30, 14 September 2018 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005

Haktan Akcin 
(Lingnan University, Hong Kong)

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Lingnan University, on a Research Fellowship from Hong Kong Government. In my PhD thesis, I try to find out fundamental characteristics of Naturalized Metaphysics that would be suitable for the Epistemic version of Structural Realism.
Prior to my current post at Lingnan, I was a master's student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bristol. My MLitt thesis "Structural Realism as an Argument for Scientific Realism" was supervised by James Ladyman. Before that, I obtained BA and MA degrees in philosophy from Middle East Technical University in Turkey.

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