Why Non-individuality? A Discussion on Individuality, Identity, and Cardinality in the Quantum Context

Erkenntnis (1):1-18 (2012)
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Abstract

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

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Author Profiles

Décio Krause
Federal University of Santa Catarina
Jonas R. B. Arenhart
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

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Ontological relativity.W. V. O. Quine - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):185-212.
Identity in physics: a historical, philosophical, and formal analysis.Steven French & Decio Krause - 2006 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Decio Krause.
Structural Realism.James Ladyman - 2014 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
Are quantum particles objects?Simon Saunders - 2006 - Analysis 66 (1):52-63.

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