Discerning elementary particles

Philosophy of Science 76 (2):179-200 (2009)
Abstract
We maximally extend the quantum‐mechanical results of Muller and Saunders ( 2008 ) establishing the ‘weak discernibility’ of an arbitrary number of similar fermions in finite‐dimensional Hilbert spaces. This confutes the currently dominant view that ( A ) the quantum‐mechanical description of similar particles conflicts with Leibniz’s Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII); and that ( B ) the only way to save PII is by adopting some heavy metaphysical notion such as Scotusian haecceitas or Adamsian primitive thisness. We take sides with Muller and Saunders ( 2008 ) against this currently dominant view, which has been expounded and defended by many. *Received July 2008; revised May 2009. †To contact the authors, please write to: F. A. Muller, Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burg. Oudlaan 50, H5–16, 3062 PA Rotterdam, The Netherlands; e‐mail: f.a.muller@fwb.eur.nl , and Institute for the History and Foundations of Science, Utrecht University, Budapestlaan 6, IGG–3.08, 3584 CD Utrecht, The Netherlands; e‐mail: f.a.muller@uu.nl . M. P. Seevinck, Institute for the History and Foundations of Science, Utrecht University, Budapestlaan 6, IGG–3.08, 3584 CD Utrecht, The Netherlands; e‐mail: m.p.seevinck@uu.nl.
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