Nick Huggett
University of Illinois, Chicago
Joshua Norton
University of California, Irvine
Muller and Saunders ([2008]) purport to demonstrate that, surprisingly, bosons and fermions are discernible; this article disputes their arguments, then derives a similar conclusion in a more satisfactory fashion. After briefly explicating their proof and indicating how it escapes earlier indiscernibility results, we note that the observables which Muller and Saunders argue discern particles are (i) non-symmetric in the case of bosons and (ii) trivial multiples of the identity in the case of fermions. Both problems undermine the claim that they have shown particles to be physically discernible. We then prove two results concerning observables that are truly physical: one showing when particles are discernible and one showing when they are not (categorically) discernible. Along the way we clarify some frequently misunderstood issues concerning the interpretation of quantum observables. 1 Background2 Criticisms2.1 Bosons2.2 Fermions3 Reformulating the Insight3.1 What weakly discerns?3.2 General results4 Conclusion
Keywords indiscernibility  quanta  identity
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Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axs038
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References found in this work BETA

Discerning Fermions.Simon Saunders & F. A. Muller - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):499 - 548.
Quantum Physics and the Identity of Indiscernibles.Steven French & Michael Redhead - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (2):233-246.
Discerning Elementary Particles.F. A. Muller & M. P. Seevinck - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (2):179-200.
Physics and Leibniz's Principles.Simon Saunders - 2003 - In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. pp. 289--307.
Points, Particles, and Structural Realism.Oliver Pooley - 2005 - In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha T. Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford University Press. pp. 83--120.

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Citations of this work BETA

Identity and Individuality in Quantum Theory.Steven French - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Dissecting Weak Discernibility of Quanta.Tomasz Bigaj - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 50:43-53.
Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can Still Make a Contribution.Steven French - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2):211-230.
Looking Forward, Not Back: Supporting Structuralism in the Present.Kerry McKenzie - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 59:87-95.
The Case Against Factorism: On the Labels of $$Otimes$$ ⊗ -Factor Hilbert-Spaces of Similar Particles in Quantum Mechanics.F. A. Muller & Gijs Leegwater - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:1-16.

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