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Steven French [201]Steven N. J. French [1]
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Steven French
University of Leeds
  1. The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation.Steven French - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    Steven French articulates and defends the bold claim that there are no objects in the world. He draws on metaphysics and philosophy of science to argue for structural realism--the position that we live in a world of structures--and defends a form of eliminativism about objects that sets laws and symmetry principles at the heart of ontology.
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  2. Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis.Steven French - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    Steven French and Decio Krause examine the metaphysical foundations of quantum physics. They draw together historical, logical, and philosophical perspectives on the fundamental nature of quantum particles and offer new insights on a range of important issues. Focusing on the concepts of identity and individuality, the authors explore two alternative metaphysical views; according to one, quantum particles are no different from books, tables, and people in this respect; according to the other, they most certainly are. Each view comes with certain (...)
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  3. Remodelling Structural Realism: Quantum Physics and the Metaphysics of Structure. [REVIEW]Steven French & James Ladyman - 2003 - Synthese 136 (1):31-56.
    We outline Ladyman's 'metaphysical' or 'ontic' form of structuralrealism and defend it against various objections. Cao, in particular, has questioned theview of ontology presupposed by this approach and we argue that by reconceptualisingobjects in structural terms it offers the best hope for the realist in thecontext of modern physics.
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  4. There Are No Such Things as Theories.Steven French - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    What is a scientific theory? This book considers this fundamental question by presenting a range of options and the issues they raise. It draws comparisons between theories and artworks and proposes that we should stop thinking of theories as things altogether.
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  5. Science and Partial Truth: A Unitary Approach to Models and Scientific Reasoning.Newton C. A. da Costa & Steven French - 2003 - Oup Usa.
    Da Costa and French explore the consequences of adopting a 'pragmatic' notion of truth in the philosophy of science. Their framework sheds new light on issues to do with belief, theory acceptance, and the realism-antirealism debate, as well as the nature of scientific models and their heuristic development.
     
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  6. Reinflating the Semantic Approach.Steven French & James Ladyman - 1999 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (2):103 – 121.
    The semantic, or model-theoretic, approach to theories has recently come under criticism on two fronts: (i) it is claimed that it cannot account for the wide diversity of models employed in scientific practice—a claim which has led some to propose a “deflationary” account of models; (ii) it is further contended that the sense of “model” used by the approach differs from that given in model theory. Our aim in the present work is to articulate a possible response to these claims, (...)
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  7. In Defence of Ontic Structural Realism.Steven French & James Ladyman - 2011 - In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 25-42.
  8. A Model‐Theoretic Account of Representation.Steven French - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1472-1483.
    Recent discussions of the nature of representation in science have tended to import pre-established decompositions from analyses of representation in the arts, language, cognition and so forth. Which of these analyses one favours will depend on how one conceives of theories in the first place. If one thinks of them in terms of an axiomatised set of logico-linguistic statements, then one might be naturally drawn to accounts of linguistic representation in which notions of denotation, for example, feature prominently. If, on (...)
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  9. The Interdependence of Structure, Objects and Dependence.Steven French - 2010 - Synthese 175 (S1):89 - 109.
    According to 'Ontic Structural Realism' (OSR), physical objects—qua metaphysical entities—should be reconceptualised, or, more strongly, eliminated in favour of the relevant structures. In this paper I shall attempt to articulate the relationship between these putative objects and structures in terms of certain accounts of metaphysical dependence currently available. This will allow me to articulate the differences between the different forms of OSR and to argue in favour of the 'eliminativist' version. A useful context is provided by Floridi's account of the (...)
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  10. Structure as a Weapon of the Realist.Steven French - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (2):167–185.
    Although much of its history has been neglected or misunderstood, a structuralist 'tendency' has re-emerged within the philosophy of science. Broadly speaking, it consists of two fundamental strands: on the one hand, there is the identification of structural commonalities between theories; on the other, there is the metaphysical decomposition of objects in structural terms. Both have been pressed into service for the realist cause: the former has been identified primarily with Worrall's 'epistemic' structural realism; the latter with Ladyman's 'ontic' form. (...)
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  11. Identity and Individuality in Quantum Theory.Steven French - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  12. On Representing the Relationship Between the Mathematical and the Empirical.Otávio Bueno, Steven French & James Ladyman - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (3):497-518.
    We examine, from the partial structures perspective, two forms of applicability of mathematics: at the “bottom” level, the applicability of theoretical structures to the “appearances”, and at the “top” level, the applicability of mathematical to physical theories. We argue that, to accommodate these two forms of applicability, the partial structures approach needs to be extended to include a notion of “partial homomorphism”. As a case study, we present London's analysis of the superfluid behavior of liquid helium in terms of Bose‐Einstein (...)
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  13. Quantum Physics and the Identity of Indiscernibles.Steven French & Michael Redhead - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (2):233-246.
    Department of History and Philosophy of Science. University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH This paper is concerned with the question of whether atomic particles of the same species, i. e. with the same intrinsic state-independent properties of mass, spin, electric charge, etc, violate the Leibnizian Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles, in the sense that, while there is more than one of them, their state-dependent properties may also all be the same. The answer depends on what exactly (...)
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  14. A Model‐Theoretic Account of Representation (or, I Don't Know Much About Art…but I Know It Involves Isomorphism).Steven French - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1472-1483.
    Discussions of representation in science tend to draw on examples from art. However, such examples need to be handled with care given a) the differences between works of art and scientific theories and b) the accommodation of these examples within certain philosophies of art. I shall examine the claim that isomorphism is neither necessary nor sufficient for representation and I shall argue that there exist accounts of representation in both art and science involving isomorphism which accommodate the apparent counterexamples and, (...)
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  15. Quantum Gravity Meets Structuralism: Interweaving Relations in the Foundations of Physics.Dean Rickles & Steven French - 2006 - In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha T. Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford University Press. pp. 1--39.
     
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  16. How Theories Represent.Otavio Bueno & Steven French - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):857-894.
    An account of scientific representation in terms of partial structures and partial morphisms is further developed. It is argued that the account addresses a variety of difficulties and challenges that have recently been raised against such formal accounts of representation. This allows some useful parallels between representation in science and art to be drawn, particularly with regard to apparently inconsistent representations. These parallels suggest that a unitary account of scientific and artistic representation is possible, and our article can be viewed (...)
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  17. Thinking Outside the Toolbox: Towards a More Productive Engagement Between Metaphysics and Philosophy of Physics.Steven French & Kerry McKenzie - 2012 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 8 (1):42-59.
    he relationship between metaphysics and science has recently become the focus of increased attention. Ladyman and Ross, in particular, have accused even naturalistically inclined metaphysicians of pursuing little more than the philosophy of A-level chemistry and have suggested that analytic metaphysics should simply be discontinued. In contrast, we shall argue, first of all, that even metaphysics that is disengaged from modern science may offer a set of resources that can be appropriated by philosophers of physics in order to set physics (...)
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  18.  11
    The Neglect of Experiment.Steven French - 1990 - Noûs 24 (4):631-634.
    What role have experiments played, and should they play, in physics? How does one come to believe rationally in experimental results? The Neglect of Experiment attempts to provide answers to both of these questions. Professor Franklin's approach combines the detailed study of four episodes in the history of twentieth century physics with an examination of some of the philosophical issues involved. The episodes are the discovery of parity nonconservation in the 1950s; the nondiscovery of parity nonconservation in the 1930s, when (...)
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  19. Metaphysical Underdetermination: Why Worry?Steven French - 2011 - Synthese 180 (2):205 - 221.
    Various forms of underdetermination that might threaten the realist stance are examined. That which holds between different 'formulations' of a theory (such as the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations of classical mechanics) is considered in some detail, as is the 'metaphysical' underdetermination invoked to support 'ontic structural realism'. The problematic roles of heuristic fruitfulness and surplus structure in attempts to break these forms of underdetermination are discussed and an approach emphasizing the relevant structural commonalities is defended.
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  20. Can Mathematics Explain Physical Phenomena?Otávio Bueno & Steven French - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):85-113.
    Batterman raises a number of concerns for the inferential conception of the applicability of mathematics advocated by Bueno and Colyvan. Here, we distinguish the various concerns, and indicate how they can be assuaged by paying attention to the nature of the mappings involved and emphasizing the significance of interpretation in this context. We also indicate how this conception can accommodate the examples that Batterman draws upon in his critique. Our conclusion is that ‘asymptotic reasoning’ can be straightforwardly accommodated within the (...)
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  21. On the Withering Away of Physical Objects.Steven French - 1998 - In Elena Castellani (ed.), Interpreting Bodies. Princeton University Press. pp. 93--113.
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  22. The Dissolution of Objects: Between Platonism and Phenomenalism. [REVIEW]Steven French & James Ladyman - 2003 - Synthese 136 (1):73 - 77.
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  23. Realism and its Representational Vehicles.Steven French - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3311-3326.
    In this essay I shall focus on the adoption of the Semantic Approach by structural realists, including myself, who have done so on the grounds that it wears its structuralist sympathies on its sleeve. Despite this, the SA has been identified as standing in tension with the ontological commitments of the so-called ’ontic’ form of this view and so I shall explore that tension before discussing the usefulness of the SA in framing scientific representation and concluding with a discussion of (...)
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  24.  72
    Models and Mathematics in Physics: The Role of Group Theory.Steven French - 1999 - In Jeremy Butterfield & Constantine Pagonis (eds.), From Physics to Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 187--207.
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  25.  25
    What is This Thing Called Structure?Steven French - unknown
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  26. Shifting to Structures in Physics and Biology: A Prophylactic for Promiscuous Realism.Steven French - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):164-173.
    Within the philosophy of science, the realism debate has been revitalised by the development of forms of structural realism. These urge a shift in focus from the object oriented ontologies that come and go through the history of science to the structures that remain through theory change. Such views have typically been elaborated in the context of theories of physics and are motivated by, first of all, the presence within such theories of mathematical equations that allow straightforward representation of the (...)
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  27. A Coherence Theory of Truth.Newton da Costa, Otávio Bueno & Steven French - 2005 - Manuscrito 28 (2):263-290.
    In this paper, we provide a new formulation of a coherence theory of truth using the resources of the partial structures approach − in particular the notions of partial structure and quasi-truth. After developing this new formulation, we apply the resulting theory to the philosophy of mathematics, and argue that it can be used to develop a new account of nominalism in mathematics. This application illustrates the strength and usefulness of the proposed formulation of a coherence theory of truth.
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  28. Unitary Inequivalence as a Problem for Structural Realism.Steven French - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (2):121-136.
    Howard argues that the existence of unitarily inequivalent representations in Quantum Field Theory presents a problem for structural realism in this context. I consider two potential ways round this problem: 1), follow Wallace in adopting the 'naive' Lagrangian form of QFT with cut-offs; 2), adapt Ruetsche's 'Swiss Army Knife' approach. The first takes us into the current debate between Wallace and Fraser on conventional vs. algebraic QFT. The second involves consideration of the role of inequivalent representations in understanding spontaneous symmetry (...)
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  29.  89
    Scientific Realism and the Quantum.Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.) - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    Quantum theory explains a hugely diverse array of phenomena in the history of science. But how can the world be the way quantum theory says it is? Fifteen expert scholars consider what the world is like according to quantum physics in this volume and offer illuminating new perspectives on fundamental debates that span physics and philosophy.
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  30. Identity and Individuality in Classical and Quantum Physics.Steven French - 1989 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4):432 – 446.
  31.  79
    Remarks on the Theory of Quasi-Sets.Steven French & Décio Krause - 2010 - Studia Logica 95 (1-2):101 - 124.
    Quasi-set theory has been proposed as a means of handling collections of indiscernible objects. Although the most direct application of the theory is quantum physics, it can be seen per se as a non-classical logic (a non-reflexive logic). In this paper we revise and correct some aspects of quasi-set theory as presented in [12], so as to avoid some misunderstandings and possible misinterpretations about the results achieved by the theory. Some further ideas with regard to quantum field theory are also (...)
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  32.  18
    The Interdependence of Objects, Structure, and Dependence.Steven French - 2010 - Synthese 175 (S1):89-109.
    According to ‘Ontic Structural Realism’, physical objects—qua metaphysical entities—should be reconceptualised, or, more strongly, eliminated in favour of the relevant structures. In this paper I shall attempt to articulate the relationship between these putative objects and structures in terms of certain accounts of metaphysical dependence currently available. This will allow me to articulate the differences between the different forms of OSR and to argue in favour of the ‘eliminativist’ version. A useful context is provided by Floridi’s account of the relationship (...)
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  33.  14
    Imagination in Scientific Practice.Steven French - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-19.
    What is the role of the imagination in scientific practice? Here I focus on the nature and role of invitations to imagine in certain scientific texts as represented by the example of Einstein’s Special Relativity paper from 1905. Drawing on related discussions in aesthetics, I argue, on the one hand, that this role cannot be simply subsumed under ‘supposition’ but that, on the other, concerns about the impact of genre and symbolism can be dealt with, and hence present no obstacle (...)
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  34. Understanding Permutation Symmetry.Steven French & Dean Rickles - 2003 - In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. pp. 212--38.
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  35. The Model-Theoretic Approach in the Philosophy of Science.Newton C. A. da Costa & Steven French - 1990 - Philosophy of Science 57 (2):248 - 265.
    An introduction to the model-theoretic approach in the philosophy of science is given and it is argued that this program is further enhanced by the introduction of partial structures. It is then shown that this leads to a natural and intuitive account of both "iconic" and mathematical models and of the role of the former in science itself.
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  36. Keeping Quiet on the Ontology of Models.Steven French - 2010 - Synthese 172 (2):231-249.
    Stein once urged us not to confuse the means of representation with that which is being represented. Yet that is precisely what philosophers of science appear to have done at the meta-level when it comes to representing the practice of science. Proponents of the so-called ‘syntactic’ view identify theories as logically closed sets of sentences or propositions and models as idealised interpretations, or ‘theoruncula, as Braithwaite called them. Adherents of the ‘semantic’ approach, on the other hand, are typically characterised as (...)
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  37. The Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics: Partial Structures and the Application of Group Theory to Physics.Steven French - 2000 - Synthese 125 (1):103-120.
    Wigner famously referred to the 'unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics in its application to science. Using Wigner's own application of group theory to nuclear physics. I hope to indicate that this effectiveness can be seen to be not so unreasonable if attention is paid to the various idealising moves undertaken. The overall framework for analysing this relationship between mathematics and physics is that of da Costa's partial structures programme.
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  38. The Model-Theoretic Approach in the Philosophy of Science.Newton C. A. Costaa & Steven French - 1990 - Philosophy of Science 57 (2):248-265.
    An introduction to the model-theoretic approach in the philosophy of science is given and it is argued that this program is further enhanced by the introduction of partial structures. It is then shown that this leads to a natural and intuitive account of both "iconic" and mathematical models and of the role of the former in science itself.
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  39. Quantum Vagueness.Steven French & Décio Krause - 2003 - Erkenntnis 59 (1):97 - 124.
    It has been suggested that quantum particles are genuinelyvague objects (Lowe 1994a). The present work explores thissuggestion in terms of the various metaphysical packages that areavailable for describing such particles. The formal frameworksunderpinning such packages are outlined and issues of identityand reference are considered from this overall perspective. Indoing so we hope to illuminate the diverse ways in whichvagueness can arise in the quantum context.
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  40. Models, Theories, and Structures: Thirty Years On.Steven French - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (S1):S116 - S127.
    Thirty years after the conference that gave rise to The Structure of Scientific Theories, there is renewed interest in the nature of theories and models. However, certain crucial issues from thirty years ago are reprised in current discussions; specifically: whether the diversity of models in the science can be captured by some unitary account; and whether the temporal dimension of scientific practice can be represented by such an account. After reviewing recent developments we suggest that these issues can be accommodated (...)
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  41.  16
    Metaphysical Underdetermination as a Motivational Device.Steven French - unknown
    The view that quantum particles cannot be regarded as individuals was articulated in the early days of the 'quantum revolution' and became so well-entrenched that French and Krause called it 'the Received View'. However it was subsequently shown that quantum statistics is in fact compatible with a metaphysics of particle individuality, subject to certain caveats. As a consequent it has been claim that there exists a kind of underdetermination of the metaphysics by the physics which in turn has been used (...)
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  42.  94
    The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity.Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha T. Saatsi (eds.) - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    What is spacetime? General relativity and quantum field theory answer this question in very different ways. This collection of essays by physicists and philosophers looks at the problem of uniting these two most fundamental theories of our world, focusing on the nature of space and time within this new quantum framework, and the kind of metaphysical picture suggested by recent developments in physics and mathematics. This is a book that will inspire further philosophical reflection on recent advances in modern physics.
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  43. Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies in Physics.Steven French & Juha Saatsi - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 185-205.
    Many important explanations in physics are based on ideas and assumptions about symmetries, but little has been said about the nature of such explanations. This chapter aims to fill this lacuna, arguing that various symmetry explanations can be naturally captured in the spirit of the counterfactual-dependence account of Woodward, liberalized from its causal trappings. From the perspective of this account symmetries explain by providing modal information about an explanatory dependence, by showing how the explanandum would have been different, had the (...)
     
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  44.  1
    Between Platonism and Phenomenalism: Reply to Cao.Steven French & James Ladyman - 2003 - Synthese 136 (1):73-78.
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  45. Superconductivity and Structures: Revisiting the London Account.Steven French & James Ladyman - 1997 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 28 (3):363-393.
    Cartwright and her collaborators have elaborated a provocative view of science which emphasises the independence from theory &unknown;in methods and aims&unknown; of phenomenological model building. This thesis has been supported in a recent paper by an analysis of the London and London model of superconductivity. In the present work we begin with a critique of Cartwright's account of the relationship between theoretical and phenomenological models before elaborating an alternative picture within the framework of the partial structures version of the semantic (...)
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  46. The Logic of Pragmatic Truth.Newton C. A. Da Costa, Otávio Bueno & Steven French - 1998 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 27 (6):603-620.
    The mathematical concept of pragmatic truth, first introduced in Mikenberg, da Costa and Chuaqui (1986), has received in the last few years several applications in logic and the philosophy of science. In this paper, we study the logic of pragmatic truth, and show that there are important connections between this logic, modal logic and, in particular, Jaskowski's discussive logic. In order to do so, two systems are put forward so that the notions of pragmatic validity and pragmatic truth can be (...)
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  47. Science and Partial Truth: A Unitary Approach to Models and Scientific Reasoning.Newton C. A. Da Costa & Steven French - 2003 - Oxford University Press USA.
    In the past thirty years, two fundamental issues have emerged in the philosophy of science. One concerns the appropriate attitude we should take towards scientific theories--whether we should regard them as true or merely empirically adequate, for example. The other concerns the nature of scientific theories and models and how these might best be represented. In this ambitious book, da Costa and French bring these two issues together by arguing that theories and models should be regarded as partially rather than (...)
     
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  48.  9
    Vi*-Structure as a Weapon of the Realist1.Steven French - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (2):167-185.
  49.  57
    Scribbling on the Blank Sheet: Eddington's Structuralist Conception of Objects.Steven French - 2003 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (2):227-259.
    Although Eddington's philosophy of physics has been subjected to critical re-evaluation in recent years, neither the exact nature of his structuralist views nor his response to criticism by the likes of Braithwaite have been made clear. In this paper I trace, in particular, the incorporation into Eddington's structuralism of the non-classical indistinguishability of quantum objects. His metaphysical view of such objects as the product of group-theoretical analysis is crucial for understanding his response to Braithwaite's criticisms of the whole structuralist endeavor. (...)
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  50.  50
    Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can Still Make a Contribution.Steven French - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2):211-230.
    Current analytic metaphysics has been claimed to be, at best, out of touch with modern physics, at worst, actually in conflict with the latter The continuum companion to the philosophy of science, Continuum, London, 2011; Ladyman and Ross Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). While agreeing with some of these claims, it has been suggested that metaphysics may still be of service by providing a kind of ‘toolbox’ of devices that philosophers of science can access (...)
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