Five Indistinguishable Spheres

Axiomathes 32 (2):367-383 (2022)
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The significance of Max Black’s indistinguishable spheres for the nature of particles in quantum mechanics is discussed, focusing in particular on the use of the idea of weak indiscernibility. It is argued that there can be four such Black spheres but that five are impossible. It follows from this that Black’s example cannot serve as a model for indistinguishability in physics. But Black’s discussion of his spheres gave rise to the idea of weak discernibility and it is argued that such predicates are unsatisfiable in the way intended. The underlying problem with weak discernibility spreads out to also undermine the whole notion that indistinguishability rests on a notion of the permutation invariance of particles. A better foundation is indicated.



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References found in this work

The identity of indiscernibles.Max Black - 1952 - Mind 61 (242):153-164.
Philosophy of Logic.W. Quine - 1970 - In Simon Blackburn & Keith Simmons (eds.), Truth. Oxford University Press.
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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