Chapter

Identical Particles: Individuation and Modality <sup>1</sup>

Bas C. van Fraassen

in Quantum Mechanics

Published in print September 1991 | ISBN: 9780198239802
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597466 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198239807.003.0012

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

 Identical Particles: Individuation and Modality  1

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This chapter aims to place the discussion of holism in quantum theory generally and of the problem of identical particles and quantum statistics specifically in the context of general philosophy. Various debates in metaphysics, both historical and current, broach related subjects and involve analyses of concepts currently used in the philosophy of quantum mechanics. These include concepts of identity, individuation, essence, form, necessity, possibility, modality, contingency, and universality. But this chapter also extends the previous one by introducing Fock space and the transition from elementary quantum mechanics to quantum field theory via 'second quantization’. For this formalism relates clearly to certain ’anti‐essentialist’ approaches in the metaphysics of modality. Finally, in keeping with the empiricism pursued in this book, the general enterprise of metaphysics pertaining to those topics is viewed here within an anti‐metaphysical stance, as having as its value the display of a plurality of interpretations whose very diversity enhances our understanding of the theory.

Keywords: anti‐essentialism; empiricism; essence; Fock space; identity; individuation; metaphysics; modality; quantum field formalism; second quantization

Chapter.  18502 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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