Authors
F. A. Muller
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Abstract
We demonstrate that the quantum-mechanical description of composite physical systems of an arbitrary number of similar fermions in all their admissible states, mixed or pure, for all finite-dimensional Hilbert spaces, is not in conflict with Leibniz's Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII). We discern the fermions by means of physically meaningful, permutation-invariant categorical relations, i.e. relations independent of the quantum-mechanical probabilities. If, indeed, probabilistic relations are permitted as well, we argue that similar bosons can also be discerned in all their admissible states; but their categorical discernibility turns out to be a state-dependent matter. In all demonstrated cases of discernibility, the fermions and the bosons are discerned (i) with only minimal assumptions on the interpretation of quantum mechanics; (ii) without appealing to metaphysical notions, such as Scotusian haecceitas, Lockean substrata, Postian transcendental individuality or Adamsian primitive thisness; and (iii) without revising the general framework of classical elementary predicate logic and standard set theory, thus without revising standard mathematics. This confutes: (a) the currently dominant view that, provided (i) and (ii), the quantum-mechanical description of such composite physical systems always conflicts with PII; and (b) that if PII can be saved at all, the only way to do it is by adopting one or other of the thick metaphysical notions mentioned above. Among the most general and influential arguments for the currently dominant view are those due to Schrodinger, Margenau, Cortes, Dalla Chiara, Di Francia, Redhead, French, Teller, Butterfield, Giuntini, Mittelstaedt, Castellani, Krause and Huggett. We review them succinctly and critically as well as related arguments by van Fraassen and Massimi
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axn027
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,417
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Theories and Things.W. V. O. Quine (ed.) - 1981 - Harvard University Press.
The Identity of Indiscernibles.Max Black - 1952 - Mind 61 (242):153-164.
Primitive Thisness and Primitive Identity.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1979 - Journal of Philosophy 76 (1):5-26.

View all 44 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Priority and Particle Physics: Ontic Structural Realism as a Fundamentality Thesis.Kerry McKenzie - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (2):353-380.
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.

View all 90 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Discerning Elementary Particles.F. A. Muller & M. P. Seevinck - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (2):179-200.
Exclusion Principle and the Identity of Indiscernibles: A Response to Margenau's Argument.Michela Massimi - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):303--30.
Weak Discernibility for Quanta, the Right Way.Nick Huggett & Josh Norton - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):39-58.
Symmetries and Paraparticles as a Motivation for Structuralism.Adam Caulton & Jeremy Butterfield - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (2):233-285.
Quantum Physics and the Identity of Indiscernibles.Steven French & Michael Redhead - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (2):233-246.
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.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
161 ( #65,762 of 2,449,093 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #71,690 of 2,449,093 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes