Priority and Particle Physics: Ontic Structural Realism as a Fundamentality Thesis

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The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, ISSN: 0007-0882, Vol: 65, Issue: 2, Page: 353-380

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McKenzie, Kerry
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Arts and Humanities
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article description
In this article, I address concerns that the ontological priority claims definitive of ontic structural realism are as they stand unclear, and I do so by placing these claims on a more rigorous formal footing than they typically have been hitherto. I first of all argue that Kit Fine's analysis of ontological dependence furnishes us with an ontological priority relation that is particularly apt for structuralism. With that in place, and with reference to two case studies prominent within the structuralist literature, I consider whether any of structuralism's distinctive priority claims may be regarded as warranted. The discussion as a whole has largely negative implications for the radical structuralism of French and Ladyman (including their 'eliminativist' interpretation of it), largely positive implications for the moderate structuralism primarily advocated by Esfeld and Lam, and some broad lessons for contemporary fundamentalist metaphysics as a whole. © 2013 The Author .