Ontic structural realism as a metaphysics of objects

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Esfeld, Michael; Lam, Vincent
preprint description
The paper spells out five different accounts of the relationship between objects and relations three of which are versions of ontic structural realism (OSR). We argue that the distinction between objects and properties, including relations, is merely a conceptual one by contrast to an ontological one: properties, including relations, are modes, that is the concrete, particular ways in which objects exist. We then set out moderate OSR as the view according to which irreducible relations are central ways in which the fundamental physical objects exist. Physical structures thus consist in objects for whom it is essential that they are related in certain ways. There hence are objects, but they do not possess an intrinsic identity. This view can also admit intrinsic properties as ways in which objects exist provided that these do not amount to identity conditions for the objects. Finally, we indicate how this view can take objective modality into account.