The Structure of Reality and the Reality of Structure
NWO VICI onderzoeksprogramma (2013–2019)
Aanvrager: Prof dr F.A. Muller
post-doc: dr S. Wintein
promovendi: G. Leegwater, G. Sengers.
Slotconferentie in April 2019, met o.a. S. French, J. Ladyman,
S. Saunders, K. McKenzie, A. Chakravartty, J. Shafer, D. Chalmers.
This project in philosophy seeks to develop a comparably novel answer to the venerable ontological question of what there fundamentally is. The project is guided by both:
(I) the metaphysical thesis of Structuralism, according to which all that exists either is structure or is ontologically grounded in structure; and
(II) our scientific knowledge about what there fundamentally is and what everything else
ontologically depends on, which knowledge is stored in a few well-confirmed modern
physical theories (quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and the special and general
theory of relativity).
The specific tasks of this Project are the following ones.
1. A. To build a rigorous conceptual architecture on the pillar of the primitive and irreducible concepts of structure and its features, which relates these concepts to other metaphysical concepts.
2. B. To find an axiomatic structuralist truth theory, which will tell us precisely how structures and their features make sentences in the language of the architecture (of I) true.
3. C. To make structuralist sense of the ontic ruptures in the history of physics, notably the Relativity Revolution and the Quantum Revolution, so as to vindicate that our scientific knowledge of physical reality grows even during such ruptures (application of I and II).
4. D. To construct a structuralist interpretation of relativistic quantum field theory (which hosts the standard model of elementary particles and their interactions), and of the general theory of relativity, so as to understand what kind of knowledge modern physics provides of physical reality, from the scale of the tiniest of ‘particles’ and space-time points to the entire cosmos. These theories will be rationally re-constructed within our architecture (I).
Thus, this vici project encompasses the sub-disciplines of philosophy of physics, analytic metaphysics, philosophical logic, general philosophy of science and some philosophy of mathematics. A full-fledged rigorous structuralist science-based metaphysical view of physical reality will arise.
Post-doc Project is A and B, executed by dr. Stefan Wintein
PhD projects 1 and 2 is C.
Gijs Leegwater studies the ontic rupture when moving to quantum theory.
Geurt Sengers studies the ontic rupture when moving to relativity theory.
Prof.dr. F.A. Muller leads the project, participates in all projects, and executes D