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Ivanova, Milena, , . Conventionalism, structuralism and neo-Kantianism in Poincare’s philosophy of science
2015, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):114-122.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Milena Ivanova

Abstract: Poincare is well known for his conventionalism and structuralism. However, the relationship between these two theses and their place in Poincare’s epistemology of science remain puzzling. In this paper I show the scope of Poincare’s conventionalism and its position in Poincare’s hierarchical approach to scientific theories. I argue that for Poincare scientific knowledge is relational and made possible by synthetic a priori, empirical and conventional elements, which, however, are not chosen arbitrarily. By examining his geometric conventionalism, his hierarchical account of science and defence of continuity in theory change, I argue that Poincare defends a complex structuralist position based on synthetic a priori and conventional elements, the mind-dependence of which precludes epistemic access to mind-independent structures.

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Ivanova, Milena, , . Did Perrin’s Experiments Convert Poincare to Scientific Realism?
2013, Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (1):1-19.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Milena Ivanova

Abstract: In this paper I argue that Poincare’s acceptance of the atom does not indicate a shift from instrumentalism to scientific realism. I examine the implications of Poincare’s acceptance of the existence of the atom for our current understanding of his philosophy of science. Specifically, how can we understand Poincare’s acceptance of the atom in structural realist terms? I examine his 1912 paper carefully and suggest that it does not entail scientific realism in the sense of acceptance of the fundamental existence of atoms but rather, argues against fundamental entities. I argue that Poincare’s paper motivates a non-fundamentalist view about the world, and that this is compatible with his structuralism.

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Ivanova, Milena, , . Friedman’s Relativised A Priori and Structural Realism: In Search of Compatibility
2011, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (1):23 – 37.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Milena Ivanova

Abstract: In this article I discuss a recent argument due to Dan McArthur, who suggests that the charge that Michael Friedman’s relativised a priori leads to irrationality in theory change can be avoided by adopting structural realism. I provide several arguments to show that the conjunction of Friedman?s relativised a priori with structural realism cannot make the former avoid the charge of irrationality. I also explore the extent to which Friedman’s view and structural realism are compatible, a presupposition of McArthur’s argument. This compatibility is usually questioned, due to the Kantian aspect of Friedman’s view, which clashes with the metaphysical premise of scientific realism. I argue that structural realism does not necessarily depend on this premise and as a consequence can be compatible with Friedman’s view, but more importantly I question whether Friedman’s view really implies mind dependence

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Massimi, Michela, , . Structural Realism: A Neo-Kantian Perspective
2010, In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 1-23.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Introduction: Structural realism was born in the attempt to reach a compromise between a realist argument and an antirealist one, namely the ‘no miracle’ argument and the ‘pessimistic meta-induction’, respectively. In recent years, John Worrall has drawn attention to an epistemological version of structural realism, which he traces back to Henri Poincaré. French and Ladyman, on the other hand, have urged a metaphysical or ontic structural realism, which offers a ‘reconceptualisation of ontology, at the most basic metaphysical level, which effects a shift from objects to structures.’ French and Ladyman want to maintain the distance from neo-Kantianism and detach metaphysical structural realism from neo-Kantian epistemology so as to do justice to the realist’s demand for mind-independence. This manoeuvre raises, however, some difficulties that have been at the centre of a recent ongoing debate: can we really ‘dissolve’ entities into mathematical structures? How can we even conceive of structural relations without relata? In this paper the author offers a diagnosis of the current standoff within structural realism between the epistemological and the metaphysical variant, by drawing attention to some important assumptions underlying the structural realist programme, and to their philosophical sources. It is the heterogeneity of these sources – she suggests – that is mainly responsible for the current stand-off within structural realism.

Comment: In this paper the author gives an excellent overview of the philosophical sources of structural realism: Poincaré, Cassier and Russell. The paper also explains with clarity the Newman problem and reviews the Fresnel-Maxwell case. The chapter serves as a good introduction to the topic of Structural Realism. It serves as well as a good introduction to the rest of the chapters present in the same book. This reading is best suited for courses in philosophy of science.

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McKenzie, Kerry, , . Ontic Structural Realism
2017, Philosophy Compass 12(4).
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: Ontic structural realism is at its core the view that ‘structure is ontologically fundamental.’ Informed from its inception by the scientific revolutions that punctuated the 20th century, its advocates often present the position as the perspective on ontology best befitting of modern physics. But the idea that structure is fundamental has proved difficult to articulate adequately, and what OSR’s claimed naturalistic credentials consist in is hard to precisify as well. Nor is it clear that the position is actually supported by our most fundamental physical theories. What is clear, however, is that structuralists have revealed a seam of material at the core of modern physics that is replete with implications for metaphysics. This article surveys some positions subsumed under the rubric of OSR, considering both their warrant and the interconnections that exist between them. The author argues that the fundamental kind properties pose a challenge to ontic structuralism, because it seems that these properties do not supervene upon the relevant structures. The development of structuralist metaphysics will require both an engagement with the details of modern physical theories and the deployment of tools more typically developed in a priori metaphysics. As such, it seems armchair metaphysicians have not just a stake in whether OSR’s claims may ultimately be shown to stand up, but a crucial role to play in getting them to the point where they can be subjected to scrutiny in the first place.

Comment: This paper offers a good overview of Ontic Structural Realism and its two distinct doctrines: eliminative structuralism and priority-based structuralism. It could serve as a specialized reading for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science. Before reading this paper, students should first acquire some knowledge on the basic features of structural realism.

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