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The Metaphysics of Relations$
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Anna Marmodoro and David Yates

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198735878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735878.001.0001

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The Foundations of Structuralism and the Metaphysics of Relations

The Foundations of Structuralism and the Metaphysics of Relations

(p.177) 11 The Foundations of Structuralism and the Metaphysics of Relations
The Metaphysics of Relations

James Ladyman

Oxford University Press

Mathematical structuralism and structural realism about science both take relations to be irreducible. In this respect they both run counter to the prevailing, or at least prominent, view of many influential metaphysicians that relations are ontologically derivative if not eliminable in favour of individuals and their intrinsic properties. In this chapter some examples of irreducibly relational features of the physical world (including the entangled stated of quantum mechanics) are adduced to motivate structuralism and to provide a naturalistic basis for the metaphysics of relations. Structuralism is often related to the idea that relations can individuate, and to debates about Principle of Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) and the nature and status of individuality. It is argued that popular forms of argument against the grounding of individuality in relations only work if they also work against grounding individuality in non-relational properties.

Keywords:   Ontic Structural Realism, internal relations, external relations, intrinsic properties, extrinsic properties, antireductionism, quantum entanglement, relational individuation, identity of indiscernibles

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