Do Objects Depend on Structures?

Ontic Structural Realists hold that structure is all there is, or at least all there is fundamentally. This thesis has proved to be puzzling: what exactly does it say about the relationship between objects and structures? In this paper I look at different ways of articulating ontic structural realism in terms of the relation between structures and objects. I show that objects cannot be reduced to structures, and argue that ontological dependence cannot be used to establish strong forms of structural realism. At the end I show how a weaker, but controversial, form of structural realism can be articulated on the basis of ontological dependence.

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2012 63(3); Penultimate Draft (pdf)

2 thoughts on “Do Objects Depend on Structures?

  1. Haines Brown says:

    Johanna, just glanced at a draft of your “Do Objects Depend”. I found it interesting because it may be similar to my own effort, although within a different domain. I look to a notion of probabilistic grounding in which a probability value is established by conservation laws, and
    this yields a spatio-temporal localization, an actuality that is observable and measurable (but secondary to ontic probability). This may be similar to your dependency relations. I usually try to avoid philosophical thickets, particularly when folks don’t trouble to define words like “form” or “structure” and when they are wedded to a belief in the truth value of statements of fact. I’ll read your article with care as the opportunity arises and my even cite it in my current work. Just wanted to thank you for it.

  2. Dr. Matt Wachsman, MD PhD says:

    I wonder if people are fully realizing the different dimensions in structures? Obviously, “meaning is relation”; they include links in order to be structures. They can have semantic web distance relationships. BUT, they can also have internal structures. Obviously if you allow objects they obviously DO. BUT, the nature of the associations themselves can serve AS the structure (linkage, opposition, sequential, category/sets, hierarchies of importance, tautological/definitional/equivalence relations). Note: this is HTML1’s definition.
    That is only the FIRST level.

    Then, most importantly, is that structures are hierarchical in abstraction. A structure can be used as a token. THis is how we get ‘objects’. They aren’t objects, they are tokens of sets of relationships. These can be then incorporated into other structures. I refer to “epistemology” lots of times in my philosophy. It is its own structure. You can click on it and go to the structure called “epistemology”. Oh, and the tokens are paradigms. You have one structure for a drug, you have the same structure for all drugs. (here).
    Can use the same drug structure in another structure

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