Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis (Hardback)
  • Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis (Hardback)
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Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis (Hardback)

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£115.00
Hardback 440 Pages / Published: 22/06/2006
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Can quantum particles be regarded as individuals, just like books, tables and people? According to the 'received' view - articulated by several physicists in the immediate aftermath of the quantum revolution - quantum physics itself tells us they cannot: quantum particles, unlike their classical counterparts, must be regarded as 'non-individuals' in some sense. However, recent work has indicated that this is not the whole story and that the theory is also consistent with the position that such particles can be taken to be individuals, albeit at a metaphysical price. Drawing on philosophical accounts of identity and individuality, as well as the histories of both classical and quantum physics, the authors explore these two alternative metaphysical packages. In particular, they argue that if quantum particles are regarded as individuals, then Leibniz's famous Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles is in fact violated. Recent discussions of this conclusion are analysed in detail and, again, the costs involved in saving the Principle are carefully considered. Taking the alternative package, the authors deploy recent work in non-standard logic and set theory to indicate how we can make sense of the idea that objects can be non-individuals. The concluding chapter suggests how these results might then be extended to quantum field theory. Identity in Physics brings together a range of work in this area and further develops the authors' own contributions to the debate. Uniquely, as the title indicates, it situates this work in the appropriate formal, historical, and philosophical contexts.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199278244
Number of pages: 440
Weight: 824 g
Dimensions: 241 x 165 x 30 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
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 Philosophy of Science *
Steven French and Decio 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 *
...complex, multifaceted and marvellous book. Identity in Physics critically scrutinizes metaphysical issues implicated in claccical and quantum physics, making deft use of the history of theoretical developments, and ultimately suggesting a way of rethinking the formal foundations of quantum physics...It is very rare to see the metaphysics of science engaged so carefully, conscientiously and even-handedly. * Kent W. Staley, BJHS *
This is a well written book that clearly lays out many of the important views of the field. It is engaging and interesting, and, without doubt, will be widely read by students and practitioners of the field. * Justin C. Pniower MIND *
Steven French and Decio Krause's book in not just a long overdue addition to the existing literature: it is the most thorough and authoritative monograph ever written on the subject, and is bound to shape any future philosophical debate on identity in physics. * Michela Massimi, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics *
The debate on the individuality of particles in classical and quantum physics is one of the most fascinating ongoing debates in philosophy of physics...Steven French and Decio Krause's book is not just a long overdue addition to the existing literature: it is the most thorough and authoritative monograph ever written on the subject, and is bound to shape any future philosophical debate on identity in physics...this monograph is a must for anyone interested to tackle these deep metaphysical issues and their far-reaching implications for the world we live in. * Michela Massimi, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics *

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