Withering away, weakly

Synthese 180 (2):223 - 233 (2011)
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Abstract

One of the reasons provided for the shift away from an ontology for physical reality of material objects & properties towards one of physical structures & relations (Ontological Structural Realism: OntSR) is that the quantum-mechanical description of composite physical systems of similar elementary particles entails they are indiscernible. As material objects, they 'whither away', and when they wither away, structures emerge in their stead. We inquire into the question whether recent results establishing the weak discernibility of elementary particles pose a threat for this quantum-mechanical reason for OntSR, because precisely their newly discovered discernibility prevents them from 'whithering away'. We argue there is a straightforward manner to consider the recent results as a reason in favour of OntSR rather than against it

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F. A. Muller
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Citations of this work

Structuralism in the Idiom of Determination.Kerry McKenzie - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):497-522.
Ontic structural realism as a metaphysics of objects.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2011 - In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 143-159.
Discerning elementary particles.F. A. Muller & M. P. Seevinck - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (2):179-200.
Identity and individuality in quantum theory.Steven French - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in 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.
Quantum physics and the identity of indiscernibles.Steven French & Michael Redhead - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (2):233-246.

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