Journal Article

On the significance of permutation symmetry

N Huggett

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 50, issue 3, pages 325-347
Published in print September 1999 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 1999 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/50.3.325
On the significance of permutation symmetry

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Science and Mathematics

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

There has been considerable recent philosophical debate over the implications of many particle quantum mechanics for the metaphysics of individuality (cf. Huggett [1997]). In this paper I look at things from a rather different perspective: by investigating the significance of permutation symmetry. I consider how various philosophical positions link up to the physical postulate of the indistinguishability of permuted states-permutation invariance-and how this postulate is used to explain quantum statistics. I offer an explanation of the statistics that relies on the neglected parallel between permutations and covariant spatial transformation. And I explore the parallel, showing that a further kind of symmetry explains why permutations are invariant when spatial symmetries are not.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.