Grades of individuality. A pluralistic view of identity in quantum mechanics and in the sciences

Philosophical Studies 163 (3):591-610 (2013)
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Abstract

This paper offers a critical assessment of the current state of the debate about the identity and individuality of material objects. Its main aim, in particular, is to show that, in a sense to be carefully specified, the opposition between the Leibnizian ‘reductionist’ tradition, based on discernibility, and the sort of ‘primitivism’ that denies that facts of identity and individuality must be analysable has become outdated. In particular, it is argued that—contrary to a widespread consensus—‘naturalised’ metaphysics supports both the acceptability of non-qualitatively grounded (both ‘contextual’ and intrinsic) identity and a pluralistic approach to individuality and individuation. A case study is offered that focuses on non-relativistic quantum mechanics, in the context of which primitivism about identity and individuality, rather than being regarded as unscientific, is on the contrary suggested to be preferable to the complicated forms of reductionism that have recently been proposed. More generally, by assuming a plausible form of anti-reductionism about scientific theories and domains, it is claimed that science can be regarded as compatible with, or even as suggesting, the existence of a series of equally plausible grades of individuality. The kind of individuality that prevails in a certain context and at a given level can be ascertained only on the basis of the specific scientific theory at hand

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Author Profiles

Matteo Morganti
Università degli Studi Roma Tre
Mauro Dorato
Università degli Studi Roma Tre

Citations of this work

The many faces of biological individuality.Thomas Pradeu - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):761-773.
Fundamentality and Ontological Minimality.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2018 - In Ricki Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 237-253.
Identity and individuality in quantum theory.Steven French - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Is Identity Really so Fundamental?Décio Krause & Jonas R. Becker Arenhart - 2019 - Foundations of Science 24 (1):51-71.

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Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
Introduction to mathematical logic.Alonzo Church - 1944 - Princeton,: Princeton University Press. Edited by C. Truesdell.
Introduction to mathematical logic..Alonzo Church - 1944 - Princeton,: Princeton university press: London, H. Milford, Oxford university press. Edited by C. Truesdell.

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