Quantum physics and the identity of indiscernibles

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (2):233-246 (1988)
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Department of History and Philosophy of Science. University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH This paper is concerned with the question of whether atomic particles of the same species, i. e. with the same intrinsic state-independent properties of mass, spin, electric charge, etc, violate the Leibnizian Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles, in the sense that, while there is more than one of them, their state-dependent properties may also all be the same. The answer depends on what exactly the state-dependent properties of atomic particles are taken to be. On the plausible interpretation that these should comprise all monadic and relational properties that can be expressed in terms of physical magnitudes associated with self-adjoint operators that can be defined for the individual particles, then the weakest form of the Principle is shown to be violated for bosons, fermions and higher-order paraparticles, treated in first quantization *Some of the arguments inn this paper appeared in a thesis submited by one of us (S.F.) In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the PhD degree of the University of London, in 1984. entitled 'Identity and ‘Individuality in Classical and Quantum Physics’.



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Author Profiles

Michael Redhead
Last affiliation: London School of Economics
Steven French
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

What is structural realism?James Ladyman - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (3):409-424.
Are quantum particles objects?Simon Saunders - 2006 - Analysis 66 (1):52-63.
Discerning Fermions.Simon Saunders & F. A. Muller - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):499 - 548.

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References found in this work

Relational Holism and Quantum Mechanics1.Paul Teller - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37 (1):71-81.
New Essays on Human Understanding.G. W. Leibniz - 1981 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (3):489-490.
The Nature of Physical Reality.H. Margenau - 1951 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 2 (5):81-81.

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