Physics, Structure, and Reality

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2022.09.06 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Jill North, Physics, Structure, and Reality, Oxford University Press, 2021, 252pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780192894106.

Reviewed by David Albert, Columbia University

This is a meticulous and deliberate and beautiful book.

People used to say of Ernest Nagel’s now-neglected classic The Structure of Science that its greatness was in its many qualifications—because those qualifications were meant not to mislead, or to conceal, or to dissemble, or to preempt potential criticisms—but precisely, and on the contrary, to be honest and forthright and un-sensational and clear. To acknowledge that philosophy is hard. To show how philosophy is responsibly done. And that’s very much how I feel reading Jill North’s book.

This is (to begin with) a book about scientific realism—in the most familiar and straightforward and old-fashioned and flat-footed sense of that term. And it is not so much about the thesis of…

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