Particle labels and the theory of indistinguishable particles in quantum mechanics

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (2):201-218 (1992)
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Abstract

We extend the work of French and Redhead [1988] further examining the relation of quantum statistics to the assumption that quantum entities have the sort of identity generally assumed for physical objects, more specifically an identity which makes them susceptible to being thought of as conceptually individuatable and labelable even though they cannot be experimentally distinguished. We also further examine the relation of such hypothesized identity of quantum entities to the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles. We conclude that although such an assumption of identity is consistent with the facts of quantum statistics, methodological considerations show that we should take quantum entities to be entirely unindividuatable, in the way suggested by a Fock space description.

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Author Profiles

Michael Redhead
Last affiliation: London School of Economics

Citations of this work

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