Grades of individuality. A pluralistic view of identity in quantum mechanics and in the sciences

Philosophical Studies 163 (3):591-610 (2013)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
This paper offers a critical assessment of the current state of the debate about the identity and individuality of material objects. Its main aim, in particular, is to show that, in a sense to be carefully specified, the opposition between the Leibnizian ‘reductionist’ tradition, based on discernibility, and the sort of ‘primitivism’ that denies that facts of identity and individuality must be analysable has become outdated. In particular, it is argued that—contrary to a widespread consensus—‘naturalised’ metaphysics supports both the acceptability of non-qualitatively grounded (both ‘contextual’ and intrinsic) identity and a pluralistic approach to individuality and individuation. A case study is offered that focuses on non-relativistic quantum mechanics, in the context of which primitivism about identity and individuality, rather than being regarded as unscientific, is on the contrary suggested to be preferable to the complicated forms of reductionism that have recently been proposed. More generally, by assuming a plausible form of anti-reductionism about scientific theories and domains, it is claimed that science can be regarded as compatible with, or even as suggesting, the existence of a series of equally plausible grades of individuality. The kind of individuality that prevails in a certain context and at a given level can be ascertained only on the basis of the specific scientific theory at hand
PhilPapers/Archive ID
DORGOI
Revision history
First archival date: 2012-10-17
Latest version: 2 (2015-11-21)
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Who’s Afraid of Nagelian Reduction?Dizadji-Bahmani, Foad; Frigg, Roman & Hartmann, Stephan
Discerning Fermions.Saunders, Simon & Muller, F. A.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

Added to PP index
2011-10-31

Total views
681 ( #3,118 of 39,624 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
36 ( #13,496 of 39,624 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.