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Identity, individuality and the ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Morganti, Matteo (2007) Identity, individuality and the ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis examines the concepts of identity and individuality via scientifically-informed philosophical analysis. It has two parts. The first part deals with metaphysical claims that turn out to be, in effect, very general empirical claims extracted from our (supposed, but rationally-accredited) knowledge of the world. I here compare two approaches: a) the Leibniz-Quine view of identity as a derivative relation, and, relatedly, of individuality as dependent on the qualities of things; and b) the view that identity is a non-analysable primitive, and, relatedly, that the individuality of things is not reducible to anything else. The former position, based on the Principle of the Identity of the Indiscernibles as a criterion of individuation, might appear prima facie more plausible. However, I argue that it runs into difficulties both at the level of a priori analysis and in terms of 'fit' with the evidence described by our best science. It is, in fact, not even as compelling from the empiricist point of view as is commonly believed. I therefore argue that the position that identity and individuality are primitive may be preferred. In the second part of the thesis - under the assumption that the proper role of metaphysics is to characterise the best solutions to issues that are left open by current science - I deal with the question regarding whether and how the ultimate constituents of reality can actually be conceived of as primitive individuals. I argue in favour of an ontology of tropes, develop the view in detail and defend it against various criticisms. The fundamental tropes that constitute the basic 'building blocks' of reality are identified with the state-independent properties of elementary particles. The way in which these constitute complex particulars is described, and certain peculiarities having to do with quantum statistics are accounted for. I conclude by suggesting possible avenues for further research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2723

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