University of London
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1985
Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  •  1273
    A coherence theory of truth
    with Newton da Costa and Otávio Bueno
    Manuscrito 28 (2): 263-290. 2005.
    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
  •  520
    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.
  •  422
    The central concern of this article is whether the semantic approach has the resources to appropriately capture the core tenets of structural realism. Chakravartty (2001) has argued that a realist notion of correspondence cannot be accommodated without introducing a linguistic component, which undermines the approach itself. We suggest that this worry can be addressed by an appropriate understanding of the role of language in this context. The real challenge, however, is how to incorporate the c…Read more
  •  422
    Quantum gravity meets structuralism: Interweaving relations in the foundations of physics
    In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha T. Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity, Oxford University Press. pp. 1--39. 2006.
  •  376
    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 appro…Read more
  •  368
    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' …Read more
  •  330
    Quantum physics and the identity of indiscernibles
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (2): 233-246. 1988.
    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 …Read more
  •  274
    Shifting to structures in physics and biology: A prophylactic for promiscuous realism
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2): 164-173. 2011.
    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 represe…Read more
  •  273
    In defence of ontic structural realism
    In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism, Springer Science+business Media. pp. 25-42. 2011.
  •  240
    Models, Theories, and Structures: Thirty Years on
    Philosophy of Science 67 (S1). 2000.
    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 thes…Read more
  •  240
    Reinflating the semantic approach
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (2). 1999.
    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, drawing on recent…Read more
  •  238
    The model-theoretic approach in the philosophy of science
    with Newton C. A. Costaa
    Philosophy of Science 57 (2): 248-265. 1990.
    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
  •  236
    The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Caste…Read more
  •  232
    Can Mathematics Explain Physical Phenomena?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1): 85-113. 2012.
    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’ …Read more
  •  232
    Scientific Realism and the Quantum (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    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.
  •  216
    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 phil…Read more
  •  215
    How Theories Represent
    with Otávio Bueno
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4): 857-894. 2011.
    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 ar…Read more
  •  214
    On the logic of belief
    with Newton C. A. Da Costa
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49 (3): 431-446. 1989.
  •  205
    Identity and individuality in classical and quantum physics
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4). 1989.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  198
    Faced with strong arguments to the effect that Leibniz''sPrinciple of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) is not a necessary truth, many supporters of the Principle have staged a strategic retreat to the claim that it is contingently true in this, the actual, world. The purpose of this paper is to examine the status of the various forms of PII in both classical and quantum physics, and it is concluded that this latter view is at best doubtful, at worst, simply wrong.
  •  196
    Keeping quiet on the ontology of models
    Synthese 172 (2): 231-249. 2010.
    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 h…Read more
  •  174
    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.
  •  174
    Unitary inequivalence as a problem for structural realism
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (2): 121-136. 2012.
    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 inequiv…Read more
  •  170
    Realism and its representational vehicles
    Synthese 194 (9): 3311-3326. 2017.
    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 the imp…Read more
  •  162
    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
  •  158
    Models and structures: Phenomenological and partial
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (1): 43-46. 2012.
    In a recent paper, Suárez and Cartwright return to the example of London and London's construction of a model for superconductivity and raise a number of concerns against the account of this construction presented in French and Ladyman and elsewhere. In this discussion note, we examine the challenge they raised and offer our responses.
  •  155
    Time and Chance
    Mind 114 (453): 113-116. 2005.
  •  152
    Structure as a weapon of the realist
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (2). 2006.
    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 'epistem…Read more