What Are Quanta, and Why Does It Matter?

I criticize a certain view of the 'quanta' of quantum mechanics that sees them as fundamentally non-atomistic and fundamentally significant for our understanding of quantum fields. In particular, I have in mind work by Redhead and Teller (1991, 1992 and Teller 1990). I prove that classical particles do not have the rather strong flavour of identity often associated with them; permuting positions and momenta does not produce distinct states. I show that even the label free excitation formalism is compatible with a mild form of atomism. Finally, I summarise some of the principle objections to an 'oscillator' interpretation of quantum fields.
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DOI 10.2307/192918
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