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We undertake a reconstruction of the epistemic significance of research on operational theories in quantum foundations. We suggest that the space of operational theories is analogous to the space of possible worlds employed in the possible world semantics for modal logic, so research of this sort can be understood as probing modal structure. Thus we argue that operational axiomatisations of quantum mechanics may be interpreted as a novel form of structural realism; we discuss the consequences of this interpretation for the philosophy of structural realism and the future of operational theories.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, volume 94, in 2022.

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