Survey of Structuralism in the Natural Sciences

This chapter traces the development of structural realism within the scientific realism debate and the wider current of structuralism that has swept the philosophy of the natural sciences in the twentieth century.1 The primary aim is to make perspicuous the many manifestations of structural realism and their underlying claims. Among other things, I will compare structural realism’s various manifestations in order to throw more light onto the relations between them. At the end of the chapter, I will identify the main objections raised against the epistemic form of structural realism. This last task will pave the way for the evaluation of the structural realist answer to the main epistemological question, an evaluation that will be central to the rest of this dissertation.
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