What More than Structure do we know?
Publication Type:Journal Articles
Source:Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Volume 37, p.115-131 (2020)
Keywords:Concreteness, Conscious experience, Consciousness, Newman's objection, structural realism
Structural realism is the view that scientific theories give us knowledge only of the structure of the unobservable world. The view faces an influential objection that was first posed by Max Newman: if our knowledge of the unobservable world were strictly limited to its structure, our knowledge turns out to be trivial, for it amounts to nothing more than knowledge of the cardinality of the world. In this paper, I shall propose a response to Newman’s objection. It shall be argued that in having epistemic access to the intrinsic nature of our conscious experiences—knowledge that structural realists allow for—we have knowledge of what it is to exist as concrete phenomena. With the plausible assumption that the relations of the unobservable world are also similarly concrete, one can address Newman’s objection. I shall further contrast this response to other similar responses that have been proposed, and also address the objection that this response is not available to structural realists.