Structuralism in the philosophy of physics

Lam, Vincent (2017). Structuralism in the philosophy of physics. Philosophy Compass, 12(6), pp. 1-10. John Wiley & Sons Ltd 10.1111/phc3.12421

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Ontic structuralism or ontic structural realism in the philosophy of physics can be broadly considered as an interpretative strategy providing a set of conceptual and metaphysical tools—or, more ambitiously, an ontological framework—in order to account for central features of current fundamental physics. This article aims to review the main structuralist interpretative moves in the context of our two best fundamental physical theories of matter and spacetime, namely, quantum theory (quantum mechanics and quantum field theory) and general relativity. We highlight in particular the structuralist understanding of permutation invariance, entanglement and nonlocality in quantum theory, and of the dynamical features of spacetime, (gauge‐theoretic) diffeomorphism invariance and background independence in general relativity.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy

UniBE Contributor:

Lam, Vincent Minh Duc


100 Philosophy
100 Philosophy > 110 Metaphysics
500 Science > 530 Physics




John Wiley & Sons Ltd




Vincent Minh Duc Lam

Date Deposited:

11 May 2020 12:54

Last Modified:

11 May 2020 12:54

Publisher DOI:



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