It is argued that recent discussion of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles (PII) and quantum mechanics has lost sight of the broader philosophical motivation and significance of PII and that the `received view' of the status of PII in the light of quantum mechanics survives recent criticisms of it by Muller, Saunders, and Seevinck.
Quantum mechanics tells us that states involving indistinguishable fermions must be antisymmetrized. This is often taken to mean that indistinguishable fermions are always entangled. We consider several notions of entanglement and argue that on the best of them, indistinguishable fermions are not always entangled. We also present a simple but unconventional way of representing fermionic states that allows us to maintain a link between entanglement and non-factorizability.
In this paper I discuss some metaphysical consequences of an unorthodox approach to the problem of the identity and individuality of “indistinguishable” quantum particles. This approach is based on the assumption that the only admissible way of individuating separate components of a given system is with the help of the permutation-invariant qualitative properties of the total system. Such a method of individuation, when applied to fermionic compositions occupying so-called GMW-nonentangled states, yields highly implausible consequences regarding the number of distinct components (...) of a given composite system. I specify the problem in detail, and I consider several strategies of solving it. The preferred solution of the problem is based on the premise that spatial location should play a privileged role in identifying and making reference to quantum-mechanical systems. (shrink)
This paper addresses the issue of the multiplicity of various grades of discernibility that can be defined in model theory. Building upon earlier works on the subject, I first expand the known logical categorizations of discernibility by introducing several symmetry-based concepts of discernibility, including one I call “witness symmetry-discernibility”. Then I argue that only grades of discernibility stronger than this one possess certain intuitive features necessary to individuate objects. Further downsizing of the set of non-equivalent grades of discernibility can be (...) achieved by stipulating that any relation of discernibility should be applied only to those pairs of objects which have been previously distinguished from the rest of the universe. Restricting discernibility to pairs of objects satisfying this condition gives an additional bonus in the form of restoring the transitivity of some types of indiscernibility which have been known to be non-transitive. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to reconstruct and correct one argument in support of the symmetrization postulate in quantum mechanics. I identify the central premise of the argument as a thesis specifying a particular ontic property of quantum superpositions. The precise form of this thesis depends on some underlying assumptions of a metaphysical character. I compare the exchange degeneracy argument with alternative formal arguments for the symmetrization postulate, and I discuss the role and meaning of labels in the symmetric/antisymmetric (...) representations of the states of many particles. (shrink)
One of the basic assumptions of David Lewis's formal semantics of counterfactuals is that the crucial relation of comparative similarity between possible worlds is a linear ordering.Yet there are arguments that when we take into account relativistic features of space-time, this relationshould be only a partial ordering. The first part of the paper deals with the question of how to formulate appropriatetruth conditions for counterfactuals under the supposition of a partial ordering of possible worlds. Such truthconditions will be put forward, (...) and it will be argued that they are more general than those proposed in recentliterature, because they turn out to be applicable also when the so-called Limit Assumption is not met. The secondpart analyzes two relativistically invariant ways of interpreting spatiotemporal counterfactuals with antecedentsreferring to free-chance point events. After briefly examining key differences between these two approaches,the issue of their extension for a broader class of antecedents will be addressed. Following the approach of Finkelstein, who has proposed a specifically designed similarity relation between possible worlds, servingas a generalization tool in the case of one of the above intuitions, the possibility of a similar extension forthe second interpretation will be considered. The main result of the paper is the theorem to the effect that thegeneralization of the second intuition is impossible to obtain. More specifically, the theorem proved in the paperstates that there is no similarity relation which together with the Lewis-style truth conditions for counterfactualswould imply the second of the above interpretations as a special case. Some consequences of thistheorem for the applicability of the Lewis logic of counterfactuals to quantum phenomena will be briefly mentionedat the end of the paper. (shrink)
In this paper I consider the question of whether absolute discernibility is attainable in symmetric languages. Simon Saunders has proven that all facts expressible in first-order language with identity can be equivalently stated within its symmetric sublanguage. I use this result to show specifically how particles of the same type can be absolutely discerned in the permutation-invariant language of the quantum theory of many particles.
This book uses the formal semantics of counterfactual conditionals to analyze the problem of non-locality in quantum mechanics. Counterfactual conditionals enter the analysis of quantum entangled systems in that they enable us to precisely formulate the locality condition that purports to exclude the existence of causal interactions between spatially separated parts of a system. They also make it possible to speak consistently about alternative measuring settings, and to explicate what is meant by quantum property attributions. The book develops the possible-world (...) semantics of quantum counterfactuals using David Lewis's famous approach as a starting point but modifying it significantly in order to achieve compatibility with the demands of the special theory of relativity as well as quantum mechanics. There have been several attempts to use counterfactuals semantics to strengthen Bell's theorem and its cognates such as the GHZ and Hardy theorems. These are critically evaluated in the book. Finally, a counterfactual reconstruction of the EPR argument and Bell's theorem is proposed that sheds a new light on their philosophical consequences regarding the relations between realism and local causation. (shrink)
General metaphysical arguments have been proposed in favour of the thesis that all dispositions have categorical bases (Armstrong; Prior, Pargetter, Jackson). These arguments have been countered by equally general arguments in support of ungrounded dispositions (Molnar, Mumford). I believe that this controversy cannot be settled purely on the level of abstract metaphysical considerations. Instead, I propose to look for ungrounded dispositions in specific physical theories, such as quantum mechanics. I explain why non-classical properties such as spin are best interpreted as (...) irreducible dispositional properties, and I give reasons why even seemingly classical properties, for instance position or momentum, should receive a similar treatment when interpreted in the quantum realm. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I argue that quantum dispositions should not be limited to probabilistic dispositions (propensities) by showing reasons why even possession of well-defined values of parameters should qualify as a dispositional property. I finally discuss the issue of the actuality of quantum dispositions, arguing that it may be justified to treat them as potentialities whose being has a lesser degree of reality than that of classical categorical properties, due to the incompatibility relations between non-commuting observables. (shrink)
Three basic positions regarding the nature of fundamental properties are: dispositional monism, categorical monism and the mixed view. Dispositional monism apparently involves a regress or circularity, while an unpalatable consequence of categorical monism and the mixed view is that they are committed to quidditism. I discuss Alexander Bird's defence of dispositional monism based on the structuralist approach to identity. I argue that his solution does not help standard dispositional essentialism, as it admits the possibility that two distinct dispositional properties can (...) possess the same stimuli and manifestations. Moreover, Bird's argument can be used to support the mixed view by relieving it of its commitment to quidditism. I briefly analyse an alternative defence of dispositional essentialism based on Leon Horsten's approach to the problem of circularity and impredicativity. I conclude that the best option is to choose Bird's solution but amend the dispositional perspective on properties. According to my proposal, the essences of dispositions are determined not directly by their stimuli and manifestations but by the role each property plays in the structure formed by the stimulus/manifestation relations. (shrink)
David Lewis’s latest theory of causation defines the causal link in terms of the relation of influence between events. It turns out, however, that one event’s influencing another is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for its being a cause of that event. In the article one particular case of causality without influence is presented and developed. This case not only serves as a counterexample to Lewis’s influence theory, but also threatens earlier counterfactual analyses of causation by admitting a particularly (...) troublesome type of preemption. The conclusion of the article is that Lewis’s influence method of solving the preemption problem fails, and that we need a new and fresh approach to the cases of redundant causation if we want to hold on to the counterfactual analysis of causation. (shrink)
In the paper, the proof of the non-locality of quantum mechanics, given by Bedford and Stapp (1995), and appealing to the GHZ example, is analyzed. The proof does not contain any explicit assumption of realism, but instead it uses formal methods and techniques of the Lewis calculus of counterfactuals. To ascertain the validity of the proof, a formal semantic model for counterfactuals is constructed. With the help of this model it can be shown that the proof is faulty, because it (...) appeals to the unwarranted principle of “elimination of eliminated conditions” (EEC). As an additional way of showing unreasonableness of the assumption (EEC), it is argued that yet another alleged and highly controversial proof of non-locality of QM, using the Hardy example, can be made almost trivial with the help of (EEC). Finally, a general argument is produced to the effect that the locality condition in the form accepted by Stapp and Bedford is consistent with the quantum-mechanical predictions for the GHZ case under the assumption of indeterminism. This result undermines any future attempts of proving the incompatibility between the predictions of quantum theory and the idea of no faster-than-light influence in the GHZ case, quite independently of the negative assessment of the particular derivation proposed by Stapp and Bedford. (shrink)
In the article I discuss possible amendments and corrections to Lewis’s semantics for counterfactuals that are necessary in order to account for the indeterministic and non-local character of the quantum world. I argue that Lewis’s criteria of similarity between possible worlds produce incorrect valuations for alternate-outcome counterfactuals in the EPR case. Later I discuss an alternative semantics which rejects the notion of miraculous events and relies entirely on the comparison of the agreement with respect to individual facts. However, a controversy (...) exists whether to include future indeterministic events in the criteria of similarity. J. Bennett has suggested that an indeterministic event count toward similarity only if it is a result of the same causal chain as in the actual world. I claim that a much better agreement with the demands of the quantum-mechanical indeterminism can be achieved when we stipulate that possible worlds which differ only with respect to indeterministic facts that take place after the antecedent-event should always be treated as equally similar to the actual world. In the article I analyze and dismiss some common-sense counterexamples to this claim. Finally, I critically evaluate Bennett’s proposal regarding the truth-conditions for true-antecedent counterfactuals. (shrink)
The article deals with one particular problem created by the counterfactual analysis of causality à la Lewis, namely the context-sensitivity problem or, as I prefer to call it, the background condition problem. It appears that Lewis’ counterfactual definition of causality cannot distinguish between proper causes and mere causal conditions – i.e. factors necessary for the effect to occur, but commonly not seen as causally efficacious. The proposal is put forward to amend the Lewis definition with a condition, based on the (...) notion of cotenability, which would eliminate the problem. It is shown that the corrected definition of causality leads to the transitivity of the causal relation. Possible objections to the proposed solution, involving the assumption of indeterminism and the preemption cases, are given a thorough consideration. (shrink)
he paper addresses the issue of the applicability of David Lewis’s possible world semantics of counterfactual conditionals to the explication of some quantum-mechanical phenomena. Three main reasons why counterfactual semantics may be useful for this task are given. It is further argued that two possible semantic approaches to counterfactuals involving spatiotemporal events which satisfy requirements of special relativity should be taken into account. The main problem considered in the article is how to expand both approaches into full semantic systems. The (...) first of the approaches is known to be amenable to a generalization within the Lewis-style semantics. The second one, however, poses a greater challenge, as it has been proven (Bigaj 2004) that it cannot be incorporated into a similarity-based counterfactual semantics. In this article, an alternative method of generalization for the second counterfactual semantics is developed, which goes beyond Lewis’s framework based on the rigid similarity relation between possible worlds. The proposed method of evaluating counterfactuals is then put to the test using an example from the quantum theory. As a result of this test, a small correction of the method turns out to be necessary. (shrink)
In the first section of the chapter, I scrutinize Howard Stein’s 1991 definition of a transitive becoming relation that is Lorentz invariant. I argue first that Stein’s analysis gives few clues regarding the required characteristics of the relation complementary to his becoming—i.e. the relation of indefiniteness. It turns out that this relation cannot satisfy the condition of transitivity, and this fact can force us to reconsider the transitivity requirement as applied to the relation of becoming. I argue that the relation (...) of becoming need not be transitive, as long as it satisfies the weaker condition of “cumulativity”: for a given observer the area of the events that have become real should not diminish as time progresses. I show that there are actually two relations of becoming that meet this weakened condition: Stein’s (transitive) relation of causal past connectibility and the (non-transitive) relation that is the logical complement of the future causal connectibility. In the second part of the chapter I defend Stein’s notion of temporal becoming against the attack that appeals to quantum-mechanical non-locality. I critically evaluate the argument given by Mauro Dorato (1996) that purports to show that space-like separated measurements done on the EPR system have to be mutually determinate. Finally, in order to account for the truth of counterfactual statements that link the space-like separated outcomes, I propose a dynamic conception of becoming, according to which the sphere of determinate events as of a given point may depend on the physical phenomena transpiring at this point. (shrink)
Bell’s theorem in its standard version demonstrates that the joint assumptions of the hidden-variable hypothesis and the principle of local causation lead to a conflict with quantum-mechanical predictions. In his latest counterfactual strengthening of Bell’s theorem, Stapp attempts to prove that the locality assumption itself contradicts the quantum-mechanical predictions in the Hardy case. His method relies on constructing a complex, non-truth functional formula which consists of statements about measurements and outcomes in some region R, and whose truth value depends on (...) the selection of a measurement setting in a space-like separated location L. Stapp argues that this fact shows that the information about the measurement selection made in L has to be present in R. I give detailed reasons why this conclusion can and should be resisted. Next I correct and formalize an informal argument by Shimony and Stein showing that the locality condition coupled with Einstein’s criterion of reality is inconsistent with quantum-mechanical predictions. I discuss the possibility of avoiding the inconsistency by rejecting Einstein’s criterion rather than the locality assumption. (shrink)
This is an extended critique of comments made by Abner Shimony and Howard Stein on Henry Stapp’s proof of the non-locality of quantum mechanics. Although I claim that ultimately Stapp’s proof does not establish its purported conclusion, yet Shimony and Stein’s criticism contains a number of weak points, which need to be clarified.
In the article the possibility of breaking the eigenvalue-eigenstate link in quantum mechanics is considered. An argument is presented to the effect that there are some non-maximal observables for which the implication from eigenstates to eigenvalues is not valid, i.e. such that although the probability of revealing certain value upon measurement is one, they don't possess this value before the measurement. It is shown that the existence of such observables leads to contextuality, i.e. the thesis that one Hermitean operator can (...) represent more than one physical observable. Finally, contextuality brought about by these considerations is compared with contextuality suggested by the Kochen-Specker paradox. (shrink)
An important part of the influential Humean doctrine in philosophy is the supervenience principle (sometimes referred to as the principle of separability). This principle asserts that the complete state of the world supervenes on the intrinsic properties of its most fundamental components and their spatiotemporal relations (the so-called Humean mosaic). There are well-known arguments in the literature purporting to show that in quantum mechanics the Humean supervenience principle is violated, due to the existence of entangled states. Recently, however, arguments have (...) been presented to the effect that the supervenience principle can be defended in Bohmian mechanics. The key element of this strategy lies in the observation that according to Bohmian mechanics the fundamental facts about particles are facts about their spatial locations, and moreover, for any proper subsystem of the world its state may non-trivially depend on the spatial configuration of the rest of the universe. Thus quantum-mechanical states of subsystems do not represent their intrinsic properties but rather characterize their relations with the environment. In this paper we point out the worry that this Bohmian strategy --known as Bohumianism-- saves the letter but not the spirit of the Humean doctrine of supervenience, since it prima facie violates another seemingly important Humean principle, which we call Strong Supervenience and whose denial implies the existence of necessary connections among distinct individuals. We argue that the best defense for Bohumians is to question the fundamental existence of complex physical systems and their states by treating any reference to them as a convenient description of the underlying collection of Bohmian particles. We consider several pros and cons of this strategy. (shrink)
This paper offers a new perspective on the metaphysical doctrine of non-eliminative ontic structural realism by interpreting the relation of ontic dependence in terms of counterfactual identification rather than in terms of numerical identity/distinctness.
This is an attempt to formulate (along the line of H. Field's nominalization program) purely qualitative versions of two theories of space time: Galilean and Minkowskian theories. The starting point is to present qualitative theory for affine geometry, which is based only on one primitive predicate: „between”. Then it is shown that with the help of this predicate whole mathematical structure of affine geometry can be reconstructed as a simple definitional extension. As a next step it is shown in details (...) how the same procedure can be carried out for both theories mentioned above. (shrink)
This is an attempt to defend Field's nominalistic program from the criticism raised by K. Wójtowicz in his article. The author argues for the following theses: (a) that Wójtowicz uses the notion of „mathematical theory” broader than Field does it; (b) that he misinterprets the conception of the „abstract counterparts” of nominalistic statements; (c) and that his general evaluation of Field's program is based on too high methodological standards which he applies to the possible nominalistic versions of empirical theories. The (...) second part of this paper contains an attempt to generalize the results of Field's analysis. The following fact is proved: every open sentence expressible in the language of an empirical theory and being empirically contentful is implicitly definable by the set of certain qualitative predicates. In the case of first-order language this result can be strengthened via Beth's definability theorem, to the theorem stating that every open sentence fulfilling conditions formulated above is definable explicitly with the help of certain nominalistic formula. The philosophical significance of this result is that each mathematized empirical theory for which representation theorem is true, can be translated into purely qualitative version. (shrink)
This book contains a concise introduction to one of the most fundamental branches of philosophy, which deals with reality and its nature. Among the topics discussed are such metaphysical questions as "Are we fundamentally free?", "Does time really pass?", "Are there any abstract objects?", "What is causation?", "What are necessary and possible truths?". The book is aimed at absolute beginners, so it does not presuppose any previous knowledge of philosophy from the reader. For those who would like to pursue the (...) subject a bit deeper, the book comes equipped with an extended list of further reading. (shrink)
The existence of non-local correlations between outcomes of measurements in quantum entangled systems strongly suggests that we are dealing with some form of causation here. An assessment of this conjecture in the context of the collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics is the primary goal of this paper. Following the counterfactual approach to causation, I argue that the details of the underlying causal mechanism which could explain the non-local correlations in entangled states strongly depend on the adopted semantics for counterfactuals. Several (...) relativistically-invariant interpretations of spatiotemporal counterfactual conditionals are discussed, and the corresponding causal stories describing interactions between parts of an entangled system are evaluated. It is observed that the most controversial feature of the postulated causal connections is not so much their non-local character as a peculiar type of circularity that affects them. (shrink)
The author presents and critically analyses different accounts of causal relation given by the main representants of Lvov-Warsaw School in philosophy. Although there are considerable differences between particular approaches to this problem, it is possible at least to distinguish the key questions, analysed and anwsered by these philosophers. Among them are such questions as: how to define „causal relation”, what are its formal features, what is the space-time localization of the effect and the cause, what are causal laws.
The main focus of this paper is on the notion of transtemporal identity applied to quantum particles. I pose the question of how the symmetrization postulate with respect to instantaneous states of particles of the same type affects the possibility of identifying interacting particles before and after their interaction. The answer to this question turns out to be contingent upon the choice between two available conceptions of synchronic individuation of quantum particles that I call the orthodox and heterodox approaches. I (...) argue that the heterodox approach offers a better explanation of the known experimental facts regarding particle interactions, and I probe deeper the concepts of synchronic and diachronic identity emerging from this approach. (shrink)
In recent years, the so-calledindispensability argument has been given a lotof attention by philosophers of mathematics.This argument for the existence of mathematicalobjects makes use of the fact, neglected inclassical schools of philosophy of mathematics,that mathematics is part of our best scientifictheories, and therefore should receive similarsupport to these theories. However, thisobservation raises the question about the exactnature of the alleged connection betweenexperience and mathematics (for example: is itpossible to falsify empirically anymathematical theorems?). In my paper I wouldlike to address this (...) question by consideringthe explicit assumptions of different versionsof the indispensability argument. My primaryclaim is that there are at least three distinctversions of the indispensability argument (andit can be even suggested that a fourth,separate version should be formulated). I willmainly concentrate my discussion on thisvariant of the argument, which suggests thepossibility of empirical confirmation ofmathematical theories. A large portion of mypaper will focus on the recent discussion ofthis topic, starting from the paper by E.Sober, who in my opinion put reasonablerequirements on what is to be counted as anempirical confirmation of a mathematicaltheory. I will develop his model into threeseparate scenarios of possible empiricalconfirmation of mathematics. Using an exampleof Hilbert space in quantum mechanicaldescription I will show that the most promisingscenario of empirical verification ofmathematical theories has neverthelessuntenable consequences. It will be hypothesizedthat the source of this untenability lies in aspecific role which mathematical theories playin empirical science, and that what is subjectto empirical verification is not themathematics used, but the representabilityassumptions. Further I will undertake theproblem of how to reconcile the allegedempirical verification of mathematics withscientific practice. I will refer to thepolemics between P. Maddy and M. Resnik,pointing out certain ambiguities of theirarguments whose source is partly the failure todistinguish carefully between different sensesof the indispensability argument. For thatreason typical arguments used in the discussionare not decisive, yet if we take into accountsome metalogical properties of appliedmathematics, then the thesis that mathematicshas strong links with experience seems to behighly improbable. (shrink)
The paper consists of two parts. The first part begins with the problem of whether the original three-valued calculus, invented by J. Łukasiewicz, really conforms to his philosophical and semantic intuitions. I claim that one of the basic semantic assumptions underlying Łukasiewicz's three-valued logic should be that if under any possible circumstances a sentence of the form "X will be the case at time t" is true (resp. false) at time t, then this sentence must be already true (resp. false) (...) at present. However, it is easy to see that this principle is violated in Lukasiewicz's original calculus (as the cases of the law of excluded middle and the law of contradiction show). Nevertheless it is possible to construct (either with the help of the notion of "supervaluation", or purely algebraically) a different three-valued, semi-classical sentential calculus, which would properly incorporate Łukasiewicz's initial intuitions. Algebraically, this calculus has the ordinary Boolean structure, and therefore it retains all classically valid formulas. Yet because possible valuations are no longer represented by ultrafilters, but by filters (not necessarily maximal), the new calculus displays certain non-classical metalogical features (like, for example, nonextensionality and the lack of the metalogical rule enabling one to derive "p is true or q is true" from" 'p ∨ q' is true"). The second part analyses whether the proposed calculus could be useful in formalizing inferences in situations, when for some reason (epistemological or ontological) our knowledge of certain facts is subject to limitation. Special attention should be paid to the possibility of employing this calculus to the case of quantum mechanics. I am going to compare it with standard non-Boolean quantum logic (in the Jauch-Piron approach), and to show that certain shortcomings of the latter can be avoided in the former. For example, I will argue that in order to properly account for quantum features of microphysics, we do not need to drop the law of distributivity. Also the idea of "reading off" the logical structure of propositions from the structure of Hilbert space leads to some conceptual troubles, which I am going to point out. The thesis of the paper is that all we need to speak about quantum reality can be acquired by dropping the principle of bivalence and extensionality, while accepting all classically valid formulas. (shrink)
As it is well known, Jan Lukasiewicz invented his three-valued logic as a result of philosophical considerations concerning the problem of determinism and the status of future contingent sentences. In the article I critically analyse the thesis that the sentential calculus introduced by Lukasiewicz himself actually fulfills his philosophical assumptions. I point out that there are some counterintuitive features of Lukasiewicz three-valued logic. Firstly, there is no clear explanation for adopting specific truth-tables for logical connectives, such as conjunction, disjunction and (...) first of all implication. Secondly, it is by no means clear, why certain classical logical principles should be invalid for future contingents. And thirly, I show that within Lukasiewicz logic it is possible to construct a „paradoxical” sentence, namely a conditional which changes in time its logical value from truth to falsity. This fact obviously contradicts Lukasiewicz's philosophical reading of his three truth values, according to which true sentences are already positively determined, false sentences are negatively determined, and possible sentences are neither positively, nor negatively determined. Above-mentioned facts justify in my opinion the thesis that Lukasiewicz's three-valued logic does not satisfy his philosophical intuitions. For this purpose more appropriate seems to be sentential calculus based on the so-called supervaluation. It is three-valued, non-extentional calculus, which nevertheless preserves all tautologies of the classical logic. At the end of the article I consider the possibility of introducing to this calculus modal operators. (shrink)
This is a response to a critical review of my book Non-locality and Possible Worlds (Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt 2006) by Witold Strawiński. I present arguments why counterfactual conditionals are needed in the description of quantum-mechanical phenomena, and in particular in the analysis of the condition of locality. I rebut arguments against my choice of the relation of similarity between possible worlds offered by W. Strawiński and M. Dickson. In the later part of the article I address some other issues raised (...) by my critics, such as the problem of the truth value of the antecedents of true counterfactuals, the problem of the semantic relation between sentences and events, and various shortcomings of my formulations of the condition of locality. In my response to the specific criticism of the definition of free-choice events, I agree with the charge that my definition is satisfied by all actual events. I present a correction to the definition which uses the distinction between actual events and merely possible events. (shrink)