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Identity in PhysicsA Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis$
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Steven French and Décio Krause

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278244

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199278245.001.0001

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Quantum Statistics and Non-Individuality

Quantum Statistics and Non-Individuality

(p.84) 3 Quantum Statistics and Non-Individuality
Identity in Physics

Steven French (Contributor Webpage)

Décio Krause

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the history of quantum statistics, from its beginnings in Planck’s work, through the development of Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac statistics, to the more recent work on forms of parastatistics, focusing on the role played by considerations of particle identity and individuality. The new physics was taken to imply that quantum particles are non-individuals in some sense. This provides the framework for a novel account of Bohr’s view of particle individuality, which further illuminates his complementarity interpretation as well as Born and Schrödinger’s broadly structuralist approaches. Schrödinger’s view that identity does not apply to quantum particles is emphasized, as is Weyl’s incorporation of this view into his treatment of aggregates of particles.

Keywords:   non-individuality, Bose-Einstein statistics, Fermi-Dirac statistics, parastatistics, complementarity, aggregates, structuralism

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