Weak Discernibility, Quantum Mechanics and the Generalist Picture

Facta Philosophica 10 (1/2):155--183 (2008)
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Abstract
Saunders' recent arguments in favour of the weak discernibility of (certain) quantum particles seem to be grounded in the 'generalist' view that science only provides general descriptions of the worlIn this paper, I introduce the ‘generalist’ perspective and consider its possible justification and philosophical basis; and then look at the notion of weak discernibility. I expand on the criticisms formulated by Hawley (2006) and Dieks and Veerstegh (2008) and explain what I take to be the basic problem: that the properties invoked by Saunders cannot be pointed to as ‘individuators’ of otherwise indiscernible (and thus numerically identical) entities because their ontological status remains underdetermined by the evidence and the established interpretation of the theory. In addition to to this, I suggest that Saunders does not deal adequately with bosons, and cannot do so exactly because he subscribes to PII and the generalist picture. The last part of the paper contains a critical examination of the claim (or at least implicit assumption) that the generalist picture should be regarded as obviously compelling by the modern-day empiricist.
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