The Intelligibility of the Universe

Michael Redhead
London School of Economics
Hume famously warned us that the ‘[The] ultimate springs and principles are totally shut up from human curiosity and enquiry’. Or, again, Newton: ‘Hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of these properties of gravity … and I frame no hypotheses.’ Aristotelian science was concerned with just such questions, the specification of occult qualities, the real essences that answer the question What is matter, etc?, the preoccupation with circular definitions such as dormative virtues, and so on. The rise of modern science is usually seen as a break with the sterility of Aristotelianism, so what exactly is it that modern science does discover, if it is not the essential nature of matter, of force, of energy, of space and time? A famous answer was provided by Poincaré: ‘The true relations between these real objects are the only reality we can attain.’ This is often regarded as the manifesto of so-called structural realism, as espoused in recent years by John Worrall, for example ). In response to the arguments of Larry Laudan against convergent realism, Worrall points to the continuity in the formal relations between elements of reality expressed by mathematical equations, while the intrinsic nature of these elements of reality gets constantly revised.
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DOI 10.1017/s1358246100010717
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References found in this work BETA

What is Structural Realism?James Ladyman - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (3):409-424.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1980 - In Yuri Balashov & Alexander Rosenberg (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings. Routledge. pp. 211.
Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology.Stewart Shapiro - 2000 - Philosophical Quarterly 50 (198):120-123.

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Citations of this work BETA

Structuralism as a Form of Scientific Realism.Anjan Chakravartty - 2004 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):151 – 171.
Structural Realism: Continuity and its Limits.Ioannis Votsis - 2009 - In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 105--117.
The Principles of Gauging.Holger Lyre - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):S371-S381.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

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