Understanding Russell's Response to Newman

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Pashby, Thomas
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conference paper description
Russell's nonchalant response to Newman's apparently devastating critique of his structural realism presents a puzzle: if Russell conceded the point (as most have assumed) why did he not alter his theory or address the problem in print? I argue that Newman had merely pointed out an ambiguity in the formulation of Russell's theory in Analysis of Matter, and Russell already had the resources to avoid the problem through his contention that some relations are perceived. This concession gives his criterion of structural equivalence enough empirical purchase to avoid Newman's triviality objection without the need to make stronger claims of knowledge of external relations than are present in Analysis of Matter. This provides a precise criterion of structural equivalence that explains exactly how the structural realist may escape Newman's objection by taking relations in intension.