Ontology, Physics and Scientific Realism


What do science and metaphysics tell us about the physical world out there, and in what way do these two disciplines provide us with an at least approximately true picture (if any) of the nature of things? The present research project addresses this question by building upon prior work and results in a number of areas situated at the interface between philosophy of science, metaphysics and philosophy of physics. It aims to:

1) Further articulate metaphysical positions previously endorsed: a critical appraisal of the Quinean-Leibnizian 'reductionist' view of individuality and a related defence of identity and individuality as primitives, and a trope-theoretic ontological framework.

2) Perform a comprehensive study of properties, with special emphasis on dispositions and emergent properties (especially relations), and apply it for formulating an interpretation of quantum mechanics and an exhaustive account of properties as fundamental 'units of discourse' for science and metaphysics.

3) Apply the results to the scientific realism debate. On the one hand, for the c1arification of existing positions and concepts (esp. structural realism); on the other for the formulation of a sophisticated property-based realism, possibly also grounded on a modern reformulation of Whewell's 'consilience of inductions' (taking the convergence of independent sources towards the same theoretical entity as a sign of truth). With respect to this last area of research, the various aspects (historical and conceptual, but also formal) of key notions such as structure, Rarnsey-sentence, coherence and unification will be explored.


  • Zukunftskolleg1
  • FB Philosophie
Name Kennziffer Beschreibung Laufzeit
Exzellenzinitiative509/09Zukunftskolleg01.12.2008 – 31.05.2010
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Laufzeit: 01.12.2008 – 31.10.2010