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Counting the Particles: Entity and Identity in the Philosophy of Physics

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Abstract

I would like to attack a certain view: The view that the concept of identity can fail to apply to some things although, for some positive integer n, we have n of them. The idea of entities without self-identity is seriously entertained in the philosophy of quantum mechanics (QM). It is so pervasive that it has been labelled the Received View (French and Krause 2006. Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis. Oxford: Oxford UP: 105). I introduce the Received View in Section 1. In Section 2 I explain what I mean by entity (synonymously, by object and thing), and I argue that supporters of the Received View should agree with my characterization of the corresponding notion of entity (object, thing). I also explain what I mean by identity, and I show that supporters of the Received View agree with my characterization of that notion. In Section 3 I argue that the concept of identity, so characterized, is one with the concept of oneness. Thus, it cannot but apply to what belongs to a collection with n elements, n being a positive integer. In Section 4 I add some considerations on the primitiveness of identity or unity and the status of the Identity of Indiscernibles. In Section 5 I address the problem of how reference to indiscernible objects with identity can be achieved.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-89
Number of pages21
JournalMetaphysica
Volume18
Issue number1
Early online date18 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

    Research areas

  • Identity, Identity of indiscernibles, Individuation, Metaphysics of physics, Philosophy of quantum physics

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