Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis

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Steven French and Decio Krause examine the metaphysical foundations of quantum physics. They draw together historical, logical, and philosophical perspectives on the fundamental nature of quantum particles and offer new insights on a range of important issues. Focusing on the concepts of identity and individuality, the authors explore two alternative metaphysical views; according to one, quantum particles are no different from books, tables, and people in this respect; according to the other, they most certainly are. Each view comes with certain costs attached and after describing their origins in the history of quantum theory, the authors carefully consider whether these costs are worth bearing. Recent contributions to these discussions are analyzed in detail and the authors present their own original perspective on the issues. The final chapter suggests how this perspective can be taken forward in the context of quantum field theory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Identity in Physics is a very significant contribution to debate about, well, identity in physics, but it deserves attention from general philosophers of science and metaphysicians too." —Katherine Hawley, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science

"Steven French and Décio Krause have written what bids fair to be, for years to come, the definitive philosophical treatment of the problem of the individuality of elementary particles in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. " —Don Howard,Metascience

"Identity in Pysics is scientifically and technically sophisticated and provides a model of how metaphysics ought to be done. It is essential reading for philosophers of physics, metaphysicians and logicians interested in identity and individuality, and is highly recommended for anyone interested in the history and philosophy of physics, or non-standard approaches to logic and set theory. French and Krause are to be congratulated on producing a rich and comprehensive book worthy of careful study."—James Ladyman, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199278244
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/17/2006
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven French, University of Leeds

Décio Krause, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Individuality in Classical Physics
3. Quantum Statistics and Non-Individuality
4. Individuality and Non-Individuality in Quantum Mechanics
5. Names, Nomological Objects, and Quasets
6. A Problem for Present Day Mathematics
7. The Mathematics of Non-Individuality
8. Non-Reflexive Quantum Logics
9. The Logic of Quanta

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