Philosophy of Science 31 (3):232-236 (1964)

The Gibbs' Paradox is commonly explained by invoking some type of "principle of indistinguishability," which asserts that the interchange of identical particles is not a real physical event, i.e., is operationally meaningless. However, if this principle is to provide a satisfactory resolution of the Paradox, it must be operationally possible to determine whether, in fact, two given systems are identical or not. That is, the assertion that the Gibbs' Paradox is resolvable by an indistinguishability principle actually is an assertion that we can in principle possess a complete set of effective procedures for determining the identity or non-identity of arbitrary physical systems. We show that, in rather general situations, an assertion of this type is not well founded. It is further pointed out that a failure to recognize an incomplete set of "sameness criteria" can lead to serious blunders in physics and in biology
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DOI 10.1086/288005
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