Symmetry and Ontology

In this and the next chapter I make good on the promise to defend a structuralist account of spacetime (and the ontology of modern, gauge-theoretical physics in general), based upon the kinds of symmetry and symmetry argument dealt with in this book. I attempt to draw the many different issues of this book together under a single, unified account. However, much of these remaining chapters is devoted to showing what kinds of ontological picture can not be seen as 'read off the physics', this includes standard structural realist accounts. The remainder should be seen more along the lines of a prolegomenon for future work that will fill in the finer details.

I begin with a discussion of the distinction between reductive and non-reductive moves (at the level of phase spaces), and consider the philosophical implications of each type of technical move. I consider four viewpoints that can be found in the literature: those of Belot, Saunders, Rovelli, and Redhead. I show how the anti-reductive position I have been defending differs from each of these; pulls away from the connection to the substantivalism/relationalism debate; and pushes towards a form of structuralism. In the final chapter, I then outline and defend the kind of structuralism I have in mind, and distinguish it from other (modern) views that have been given the same name: those of Stein, French & Ladyman, and Dorato & Pauri.244

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