Allen, SR (2018) Can metaphysical structuralism solve the plurality problem? International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 26 (5). pp. 722-746. ISSN 0967-2559

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Metaphysics has a problem with plurality: in many areas of discourse, there are too many good theories, rather than just one. This embarrassment of riches is a particular problem for metaphysical realists who want metaphysics to tell us the way the world is and for whom one theory is the correct one. A recent suggestion is that we can treat the different theories as being functionally or explanatorily equivalent to each other, even though they differ in content. The aim of this paper is to explore whether the notion of functionally equivalent theories can be extended and utilized in the defence of metaphysical realism, drawing upon themes from structuralism in the philosophies of mathematics and science in which the specifics of theories do not matter as long as the relations in which they stand to other theories are maintained. I argue that despite its initial attractiveness, there are significant difficulties with this proposal. Discovering these obstacles (most probably) thwarts the realist structuralist project, but reveals interesting features of metaphysical systems.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Taylor & Francis at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Metaphysics, realism, structuralism, plurality, metaphysical equivalence, primitive
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2018 09:30
Last Modified: 20 May 2020 01:30

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