The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, Via Bolognese 52, 50139 (...) Florence, Italy Laura Crosilla, Department of Pure Mathematics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK Steven French, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK DécioKrause, Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina, 88040-900 Campus Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brazil Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
A investigação de um domínio amplo da realidade, como a evolução dosseres vivos, pode dar origem a diferentes “teorias”, cada uma consoantecom uma particular perspectiva que se considere. Para que se proceda auma análise detalhada dos pressupostos e conceitos que baseiam umadeterminada visão, o método axiomático parece ser a melhor das opções.Neste artigo, são discutidas algumas teorias da biologia evolutiva de umponto de vista axiomático, mostrando-se de que forma se pode apresentarum “predicado de Suppes” para a teoria sintética da evolução, (...) comodetalhado em outro local . Estaformulação é utilizada, dentre outras coisas, para se discutir a noção deaptidão darwiniana, bem como para explorar as relações entre a teoriadarwiniana da seleção natural e a genética de populações.The investigation of a wide field of knowledge, as evolution of living beings,may originate different “theories”, each one acting as a particularperspective we have about the domain. In order to proceed a philosophicalanalysis of the underlying assumptions of a particular view, it seems thatthe use of the axiomatic method is still the better way. Here, we discuss some theories of evolutionary biology from an axiomatic point of view, bymeans of a Suppes predicate for the synthetic theory of evolution, alreadydetailed in MAGALHÃES and KRAUSE . This formulation is hereused, among other things, to deal with the concept of Darwinian fitness, soas to explore the relationships between Darwinian theory and populationgenetics. (shrink)
In this paper we present an overview of Professor Newton C. A. da Costa’s work in logic, emphasizing the main results obtained by him in the several areas of his research activity. The text furnish a detailed bibliographic reference of his works, which are listed in the last section.
According to the semantic view, a theory is characterized by a class of models. In this paper, we examine critically some of the assumptions that underlie this approach. First, we recall that models are models of something. Thus we cannot leave completely aside the axiomatization of the theories under consideration, nor can we ignore the metamathematics used to elaborate these models, for changes in the metamathematics often impose restrictions on the resulting models. Second, based on a parallel between van Fraassen’s (...) modal interpretation of quantum mechanics and Skolem’s relativism regarding set-theoretic concepts, we introduce a distinction between relative and absolute concepts in the context of the models of a scientific theory. And we discuss the significance of that distinction. Finally, by focusing on contemporary particle physics, we raise the question: since there is no general accepted unification of the parts of the standard model (namely, QED and QCD), we have no theory, in the usual sense of the term. This poses a difficulty: if there is no theory, how can we speak of its models? What are the latter models of? We conclude by noting that it is unclear that the semantic view can be applied to contemporary physical theories. (shrink)
Our aim in this paper is to take quite seriously Heinz Post’s claim that the non-individuality and the indiscernibility of quantum objects should be introduced right at the start, and not made a posteriori by introducing symmetry conditions. Using a different mathematical framework, namely, quasi-set theory, we avoid working within a label-tensor-product-vector-space-formalism, to use Redhead and Teller’s words, and get a more intuitive way of dealing with the formalism of quantum mechanics, although the underlying logic should be modified. We build (...) a vector space with inner product, the Q-space, using the non-classical part of quasi-set theory, to deal with indistinguishable elements. Vectors in Q-space refer only to occupation numbers and permutation operators act as the identity operator on them, reflecting in the formalism the fact of unobservability of permutations. Thus, this paper can be regarded as a tentative to follow and enlarge Heinsenberg’s suggestion that new phenomena require the formation of a new “closed” (that is, axiomatic) theory, coping also with the physical theory’s underlying logic and mathematics. (shrink)
We discuss the idea that superpositions in quantum mechanics may involve contradictions or contradictory properties. A state of superposition such as the one comprised in the famous Schrödinger’s cat, for instance, is sometimes said to attribute contradictory properties to the cat: being dead and alive at the same time. If that were the case, we would be facing a revolution in logic and science, since we would have one of our greatest scientific achievements showing that real contradictions exist.We analyze that (...) claim by employing the traditional square of opposition.We suggest that it is difficult to make sense of the idea of contradiction in the case of quantum superpositions. From a metaphysical point of view the suggestion also faces obstacles, and we present some of them. (shrink)
Quasi-set theory has been proposed as a means of handling collections of indiscernible objects. Although the most direct application of the theory is quantum physics, it can be seen per se as a non-classical logic (a non-reflexive logic). In this paper we revise and correct some aspects of quasi-set theory as presented in , so as to avoid some misunderstandings and possible misinterpretations about the results achieved by the theory. Some further ideas with regard to quantum field theory are also (...) advanced in this paper. (shrink)
It has been suggested that quantum particles are genuinelyvague objects (Lowe 1994a). The present work explores thissuggestion in terms of the various metaphysical packages that areavailable for describing such particles. The formal frameworksunderpinning such packages are outlined and issues of identityand reference are considered from this overall perspective. Indoing so we hope to illuminate the diverse ways in whichvagueness can arise in the quantum context.
Following J.-Y.Béziau in his pioneer work on non-standard interpretations of the traditional square of opposition, we have applied the abstract structure of the square to study the relation of opposition between states in superposition in orthodox quantum mechanics in . Our conclusion was that such states are contraries, contradicting previous analyzes that have led to different results, such as those claiming that those states represent contradictory properties. In this chapter we bring the issue once again into the center of the (...) stage, but now discussing the metaphysical presuppositions which underlie each kind of analysis and which lead to each kind of result, discussing in particular the idea that superpositions represent potential contradictions. We shall argue that the analysis according to which states in superposition are contrary rather than contradictory is still more plausible. (shrink)
We consider the claim by Dorato and Morganti 591–610) that primitive individuality should be attributed to the entities dealt with by non-relativistic quantum mechanics. There are two central ingredients in the proposal: in the case of non-relativistic quantum mechanics, individuality should be taken as a primitive notion and primitive individuality is naturalistically acceptable. We argue that, strictly understood, naturalism faces difficulties in helping to provide a theory with a unique principle of individuation. We also hold that even when taken in (...) a loose sense, naturalism does not provide any sense in which one could hold that quantum mechanics endorses primitive individuality over non-individuality. Rather, we argue that non-individuality should be preferred based on the grounds that such a view fits better the claims of the theory. (shrink)
In this paper I consider some logical and mathematical aspects of the discussion of the identity and individuality of quantum entities. I shall point out that for some aspects of the discussion, the logical basis cannot be put aside; on the contrary, it leads us to unavoidable conclusions which may have consequences in how we articulate certain concepts related to quantum theory. Behind the discussion, there is a general argument which suggests the possibility of a metaphysics of non-individuals, based on (...) a reasonable interpretation of quantum basic entities. I close the paper with a suggestion that consists in emphasizing that quanta should be referred to by the cardinalities of the collections to which they belong, for which an adequate mathematical framework seems to be possible. (shrink)
Physics is not just mathematics. This seems trivial, but poses difficult and interesting questions. In this paper we analyse a particular discrepancy between non-relativistic quantum mechanics and ‘classical’ space and time. We also suggest, but not discuss, the case of the relativistic QM. In this work, we are more concerned with the notion of space and its mathematical representation. The mathematics entails that any two spatially separated objects are necessarily different, which implies that they are discernible —we say that the (...) space is T2, or “Hausdorff”, or yet “separable”. But when enters QM, sometimes the systems need to be taken as completely indistinguishable, so that there is no way to tell which system is which, and this holds even in the case of fermions. But in the NST setting, it seems that we can always give an identity to them by means of their individuation, which seems to be contra the quantum physical situation, where individuation does not entail identity. Here we discuss this topic by considering a case study and conclude that, taking into account the quantum case, that is, when physics enter the discussion, even NST cannot be used to say that the systems do have identity. This case study seems to be relevant for a more detailed discussion on the interplay between physical theories and their underlying mathematics, in a simple way apparently never realized before. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss some questions proposed by Prof. Newton da Costa on the foundations of quasi-set theory. His main doubts concern the possibility of a reasonable semantical understanding of the theory, mainly due to the fact that identity and difference do not apply to some entities of the theory’s intended domain of discourse. According to him, the quantifiers employed in the theory, when understood in the usual way, rely on the assumption that identity applies to all entities in (...) the domain of discourse. Inspired by his provocation, we suggest that, using some ideas presented by da Costa himself in his seminars at UFSC and by one of us in some papers, these difficulties can be overcome both on a formal level and on an informal level, showing how quantification over items for which identity does not make sense can be understood without presupposing a semantics based on a ‘classical’ set theory. (shrink)
The concept of indiscernibility in a structure is analysed with the aim of emphasizing that in asserting that two objects are indiscernible, it is useful to consider these objects as members of (the domain of) a structure. A case for this usefulness is presented by examining the consequences of this view to the philosophical discussion on identity and indiscernibility in quantum theory.
The ‘ontic’ form of structural realism , roughly speaking, admits a complete elimination of the objects in the discourse of scientific theories, leaving us with structures only. As put by the defenders of such a claim, the idea is that all there is are structures and, if the relevant structures are to be set-theoretical constructs , as it has also been claimed, then the relations which appear in such structures should be taken to be ‘relations without the relata’. As far (...) as we know, there is not a definition of structure in standard mathematics which fits their intuitions, and even category theory seems not to correspond adequately the OSR claims. Since OSR is also linked with the semantic approach to theories, the structures to be dealt with are taken to be set-theoretical constructs. But these are ‘relational’ structures where the involved relations are built from basic objects , and so no complete elimination of the relata is possible, although it would be adequate for characterizing OSR. In this paper we present a definition of a kind of relation that does not depend on the particular objects being related in the sense that the ‘relation’ continues to hold even if the relata are exchanged by suitable objects. Although there is not a ‘complete’ elimination of relata, our definition might be viewed as an alternative way of finding adequate mathematical ‘set-theoretical’ frameworks for describing at least some of the intuitions regarding OSR within a ‘set-theoretical’ framework. (shrink)
Recently, in the debate about the ontology of quantum mechanics some authors have defended the view that quantum particles are individuals in a primitive sense, so that individuality should be preferred over non-individuality (the alternative option). Primitive individuality involves two main claims: (1) every item is identical with itself and (2) it is distinct from every other item. Non-relativistic quantum mechanics is said to provide positive evidence for that position, since in every situation comprising multiple particles there is a well-defined (...) number of them to begin with, and so they must be distinct from each other. We argue that the link between a well-defined number of items and the relation of identity that is being claimed to hold is not imposed by quantum mechanics, but rather by a metaphysical view. Formal evidence is advanced in favor of the thesis that counting may be performed for items without identity (non-individuals), so that quantum mechanics needs not be viewed as endorsing an ontology of individuals. (shrink)
Lowe has recently argued that quantum particles offer examples of vague objects. While accepting the premise of the argument that such particles can be regarded as individuals, we point out that there is a lacuna here, to be filled by a detailed analysis of the nature of the entangled states which they enter into. We then elaborate the alternative view, according to which such particles should be regarded as non- individuals' and situate it in the context of recent developments of (...) a logic of non- individuality. Our conclusion is that it is here that one encounters genuine ontic vagueness. (shrink)
We investigate the higher-order modal logic , which is a variant of the system presented in our previous work. A semantics for that system, founded on the theory of quasi sets, is outlined. We show how such a semantics, motivated by the very intuitive base of Schrödinger logics, provides an alternative way to formalize some intensional concepts and features which have been used in recent discussions on the logical foundations of quantum mechanics; for example, that some terms like 'electron' have (...) no precise reference and that 'identical' particles cannot be named unambiguously. In the last section, we sketch a classical semantics for quasi set theory. (shrink)
H. Post's conception of quantal particles as non-individuals is set in a formal logico-mathematical framework. By means of this approach certain metaphysical implications of quantum mechanics can be further explored.
In this paper we consider the notions of structure and models within the semantic approach to theories. To highlight the role of the mathematics used to build the structures which will be taken as the models of theories, we review the notion of mathematical structure and of the models of scientific theories. Then, we analyse a case-study and argue that if a certain metaphysical view of quantum objects is adopted, one seeing them as non-individuals, then there would be strong reasons (...) to ask for a different mathematical framework for describing the structures that would be the models of the corresponding theory. In departing from the standard frameworks (those worked on within standard mathematics), we hope to bring to the scene, within the scope of the semantic approach, the importance of paying attention to some fundamental concepts usually only superficially touched by philosophers of science (if touched). (shrink)
In this paper we discuss two approaches to the axiomatization of scientific theories in the context of the so called semantic approach, according to which (roughly) a theory can be seen as a class of models. The two approaches are associated respectively to Suppes’ and to da Costa and Chuaqui’s works. We argue that theories can be developed both in a way more akin to the usual mathematical practice (Suppes), in an informal set theoretical environment, writing the set theoretical predicate (...) in the language of set theory itself or, more rigorously (da Costa and Chuaqui), by employing formal languages that help us in writing the postulates to define a class of structures. Both approaches are called internal , for we work within a mathematical framework, here taken to be first-order ZFC. We contrast these approaches with an external one, here discussed briefly. We argue that each one has its strong and weak points, whose discussion is relevant for the philosophical foundations of science. (shrink)
We critically examine the claim that identity is a fundamental concept. According to those putting forward this thesis, there are four related reasons that can be called upon to ground the fundamental character of identity: identity is presupposed in every conceptual system; identity is required to characterize individuality; identity cannot be defined; the intelligibility of quantification requires identity. We address each of these points and argue that none of them advances compelling reasons to hold that identity is fundamental; in fact, (...) most of the tasks that seem to require identity may be performed without identity. So, in the end, identity may not be a fundamental concept after all. (shrink)
The literature on quantum logic emphasizes that the algebraic structures involved with orthodox quantum mechanics are non distributive. In this paper we develop a particular algebraic structure, the quasi-lattice (J-lattice), which can be modeled by an algebraic structure built in quasi-set theory Q. This structure is non distributive and involve indiscernible elements. Thus we show that in taking into account indiscernibility as a primitive concept, the quasi-lattice that 'naturally' arises is non distributive.
Sortal predicates have been associated with a counting process, which acts as a criterion of identity for the individuals they correctly apply to. We discuss in what sense certain types of predicates suggested by quantum physics deserve the title of ‘sortal’ as well, although they do not characterize either a process of counting or a criterion of identity for the entities that fall under them. We call such predicates ‘quantum-sortal predicates’ and, instead of a process of counting, to them is (...) associated a ‘criterion of cardinality’. After their general characterization, it is discussed how these predicates can be formally described. (shrink)
In this paper we deal with two applications of the square of opposition to controversial issues in the philosophy of quantum mechanics. The first one concerns the kind of opposition represented by states in superposition. A superposition of “spin up” and “spin down” for a given spatial direction, for instance, is sometimes said to originate particular kinds of opposition such as contradictoriness. The second application concerns the problem of identical particles. Identity and indiscernibility are entangled in discussions of this problem (...) in such a way that a proper conceptual treatment of those issues through the square seems profitable. (shrink)
This paper intends to introduce the three issues of Principia which will appear in a sequel honoring Newton da Costa’s 80th birthday. Instead of presenting the papers one by one, as it is common in presentations such as this one, we have left the papers speak by themselves, and instead we have preferred to present to the Brazilian readers, specialty to our students, some aspects of Newton da Costa’s conception of science and of the scientific activity, grounded on the concept (...) of quasi-truth, which he contributed to develop in a rigorous way. Da Costa is known as one of the founding fathers of paraconsistent logic, but his contributions go also to the foundations of physics, theoretical computation, model theory, algebraic logic, lattice theory, applications of non-classical logics to law and technology, etc. But perhaps his main contribution was to provide a basis for the birth of a school of logic in our country, serving as teacher and inspiring new researchers for generations. It is a pleasure to have had so enthusiastic acceptation from the editors of Principia to organize these volumes. I would like to thank the contributors and the editors of Principia, specially Prof. Cezar Mortari for his help in organizing the issue. (shrink)
Some of the forerunners of quantum theory regarded the basic entities of such theories as 'non-individuals'. One of the problems is to treat collections of such 'things', for they do not obey the axioms of standard set theories like Zermelo- Fraenkel. In this paper, collections of objects to which the standard concept of identity does not apply are termed 'quasi-sets'. The motivation for such a theory, linked to what we call 'the Manin problem', is presented, so as its specific axioms. (...) At the end, it is shown how quantum statistics can be obtained within quasi-set thbeory. (shrink)
In this work, the first of a series, we study the nature of informal inconsistency in physics, focusing mainly on the foundations of quantum theory, and appealing to the concept of quasi-truth. We defend a pluralistic view of the philosophy of science, grounded on the existence of inconsistencies and on quasi-truth. Here, we treat only the ‘classical aspects’ of the subject, leaving for a forthcoming paper the ‘non-classical’ part.
This paper is the sequel of a previous one where we have introduced a paraconsistent logic termed paraclassical logic to deal with 'complementary propositions'. Here, we enlarge upon the discussion by considering certain 'meaning principles', which sanction either some restrictions of 'classical' procedures or the utilization of certain 'classical' incompatible schemes in the domain of the physical theories. Here, the term 'classical' refers to classical physics. Some general comments on the logical basis of a scientific theory are also put in (...) between the text, motivated by the discussion of complementarity. (shrink)
The notion of an individual and the related issues on individuation are topics that appear in the philosophical discussion ever since the antiquity. The idea of an individual thing is intuitively clear: an individual is something of a specific kind that is a unity, having its own identity, and being so that it is possible at least in principle to discern it from any other individual, even of similar species. But when we try to leave the intuitive realm and push (...) this idea to a logical analysis, we find a cluster of problems that are difficult to overcome within standard logico-mathematical contexts. In this work, we shall be concerned with some aspects of this intuitive concept of an individual and on some related facts about individuation taken from recent discussions that arose ever since the inception of quantum theory, pushing the discussion to a “logical” view, which in our opinion is still lacking in the usual debates on such issues. In the final part of the paper, we propose a metaphysics where the notion of identity is substituted, for some objects, by a weaker notion of indiscernibility, and we try to justify such a move. In most of the uses of the expression “quantum theory”, we shall not make explicit the distinction between the non-relativistic and the relativistic approaches, although they of course are quite different, for we think that the problems as we shall present them appear in both versions. But, as the text goes, the context will distinguish between them and these questions will become clear to the reader. (shrink)
In this paper we consider the notions of structure and models within the semantic approach to theories. To highlight the role of the mathematics used to build the structures which will be taken as the models of theories, we review the notion of mathematical structure and of the models of scientific theories. Then, we analyse a case-study and argue that if a certain metaphysical view of quantum objects is adopted, namely, that which sees them as non-individuals, then there would be (...) strong reasons to ask for a different mathematical framework for describing the structures that would be the models of the corresponding theory. In departing from the standard frameworks, we hope to bring to the scene, within the scope of the semantic approach, the importance of paying attention to some fundamental concepts usually only superficially touched by philosophers of science. (shrink)
Despite the discrepancies between quantum objects and `classical' ones, mainly with regard to the fact that the latter may be thought of as `individuals', contrary to the former, we still regard the quanta as `things' in our ordinary discourse as well as in the logico-mathematical basis of quantum theories. This paper considers some possibilities for accomodating the logico-mathematical framework of the theories which deal with such a strange ontology where the inhabitants are things devoid of identity and both having and (...) not having certain properties.``All right'', said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. (shrink)
The foundations of quantum mechanics are attracting new and significant interest in the scientific community due to the recent striking experimental and technical progress in the fields of quantum computation, quantum teleportation and quantum information processing. However, at a more fundamental level the understanding and manipulation of these novel phenomena require not only new laboratory techniques but also new understanding, development and interpretation of the formalism of quantum mechanics itself, a mathematical structure whose connection to what happens in physical reality (...) continues to present puzzles and engender debate.The present issue of Foundations of Physics considers, from physical, philosophical and logical perspectives, a range of problems: these range from the meaning of quantum identity and individuality, through probability and complementarity, to decoherence and gauge theories.The idea of preparing this special issue was conceived in connection with the Workshop .. (shrink)
In this paper we make some general remarks on the use of non-classical logics, in particular paraconsistent logic, in the foundational analysis of physical theories. As a case-study, we present a reconstruction of P.\ -D.\ F\'evrier's 'logic of complementarity' as a strict three-valued logic and also a paraconsistent version of it. At the end, we sketch our own approach to complementarity, which is based on a paraconsistent logic termed 'paraclassical logic'.
In this work, we focus on a very specific case study: assuming that quantum theories deal with “particles” of some kind, what kind of entity can such particles be? One possible answer, the one we shall examine here, is that they are not the usual kind of object found in daily life: individuals. Rather, we follow a suggestion by Erwin Schrödinger, according to which quantum mechanics poses a revolutionary kind of entity: non-individuals. While physics, as a scientific field, is not (...) concerned with whether entities posited by a specific physical theory are individuals or not, answering this question is part of the quest for a better understanding of physical reality. Here lies, in large measure, the relevance of ontology. (shrink)
Is there vagueness in the world? This is the central question that we are concerned with. Focusing on identity statements around which much of the recent debate has centred, we argue that `vague identity' arises in quantum mechanics in one of two ways. First, quantum particles may be described as individuals, with `entangled' states understood in terms of non-supervenient relations. In this case, the vagueness is ontic but exists at the level of these relations which act as a kind of (...) `veil'. Secondly, the particles can be regarded as non-individuals, where this is understood as a lack of self-identity and given formal expression in terms of quasi-set theory. Here we have ontic vagueness at perhaps the most basic metaphysical level. Our conclusion is that there is genuine vagueness `in the world' but how it is understood depends on the metaphysical package adopted. (shrink)
Schrödinger logics are logical systems in which the principle of identity is not true in general. The intuitive motivation for these logics is both Erwin Schrödinger's thesis (which has been advanced by other authors) that identity lacks sense for elementary particles of modern physics, and the way which physicists deal with this concept; normally, they understandidentity as meaningindistinguishability (agreemment with respect to attributes). Observing that these concepts are equivalent in classical logic and mathematics, which underly the usual physical theories, we (...) present a higher-order logical system in which these concepts are systematically separated. A classical semantics for the system is presented and some philosophical related questions are mentioned. One of the main characteristics of our system is that Leibniz' Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles cannot be derived. This fact is in accordance with some authors who maintain that quantum mechanics violates this principle. Furthermore, our system may be viewed as a way of making sense some of Schrödinger's logical intuitions about the nature of elementary particles. (shrink)
Inspired in Quine's well known slogans “To be is to be the value of a variable” and "No entity without identity", we provide a way of enabling that non-individual entities (as characterized in the text) can also be values of variables of an adequate "regimented" language, once we consider a possible meaning of the background theory Quine reports to ground his view. In doing that, we show that there may exist also entities without identity, and emphasize the importance of paying (...) attention to the metalanguage of scientific theories, for they may be also fundamental in determining the theory's ontological commitment. (shrink)