Towards an objectless ontology: A defence of ontic structural realism at the methodological level


  • Bruno José Borge Universidad de Buenos Aires



In the context of contemporary debates on scientific realism, structural realism(SR), explicitly introduced by John Worrall (1989), has shown to be one of the most vigorous philosophical proposals. It suggests that the knowledge that science has given us along its history is about the structure of the world, rather than about its content (nature). James Ladyman (1998), in co-authorship with Steven French (2003a, 2003b), has defended an ontic version of this position that can be summarized as follows: our knowledge is only about the structure of the world, because it’s all there is. This ontic structural realism (OSR) bases its attempt at a structural reconceptualization of objects on a metaphysical underdetermination at the level of elemental particles posited by quantum mechanics, before which the traditional realist finds herself without any resource to answer this simple question: “What is a quantum object?” OSR has motivated many objections that challenge its conceptual basis, the development of its argumentation, and even its mere coherence. Anjan Chakravartty (2003) maintains that, even when taking for granted the starting point of OSR, the replacement of an ontology of objects by one that posits structures as its primordial component is unjustified, because it does not satisfy some basic methodological principles. My aim in the present workis not to offer a complete defense of OSR, but to question the reasons given by Chakravartty to support this claim.

Key words: scientific realism, structural realism, ontic structural realism.