Wither away individuals

Synthese 190 (16):3475-3494 (2013)
Abstract
In this paper we deal with the problem of identity and individuality in quantum mechanics. We analyze three definitions of the concept of an individual and propose to check their merits in relation to the theory. In order to achieve our goals our approach also ties those definitions of individuality to two distinct kinds of naturalism in ontology: a strong version, according to which quantum mechanics must somehow authorize in a positive fashion the ontological concepts being dealt with, and a weak naturalism, according to which quantum mechanics must be only compatible with those ontological concepts. We conclude that strong naturalism is incompatible with the three concepts of individuality in quantum mechanics, and we argue that weak naturalism is not completely motivated, so that the best position to be assumed, in the end, is that the entities are simply not individuals. That is, in its craving to be compatible with strong naturalism, individuality ends up evaporating and we are left with non-individuals
Keywords Ontological naturalism  Individuality  Identity  Quantum mechanics  Non-individuals
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    References found in this work BETA
    Kit Fine (2001). The Question of Realism. Philosophers' Imprint 1 (2):1-30.
    Steven French (1989). Identity and Individuality in Classical and Quantum Physics. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4):432 – 446.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Jonas Becker Arenhart & Décio Krause (forthcoming). From Primitive Identity to the Non-Individuality of Quantum Objects. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
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