Overcoming Newman’s Objection

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bertrand Russell (The analysis of matter. Routledge, London, 1927) defended a form of structuralism according to which all we can know about the world is structure. In response, Max Newman (Mind 37:137–148, 1928) raised a formidable challenge that threatens to turn structuralism into something trivial: as long as there are enough objects in the relevant domain, one can always obtain a structure suitable for that domain. In this paper, I consider two responses to this objection. The first is provided by Rudolf Carnap (The logical structure of the world. Trans. Rolf A. George. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1928/1967) in terms of founded relations. I argue that it ultimately fails. Another alternative insists that the structures that have content about the world are ultimately finite, and it is a non-trivial matter to figure out what the appropriate structure for finite domains ultimately is. Russell (The autobiography of Bertrand Russell, vol 2. Allen & Unwin, London, 1968, 176) briefly considered this option in his response to Newman, but did not develop it further. I argue that, when coupled with a proper account of detectable relations, it is a far more promising route than it may initially seem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEuropean Studies in Philosophy of Science
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Pages3-12
Number of pages10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameEuropean Studies in Philosophy of Science
Volume5
ISSN (Print)2365-4228
ISSN (Electronic)2365-4236

Keywords

  • Carnap
  • Newman’s objection
  • Russell
  • Structuralism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy

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