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Particles, particle labels, and quanta: The toll of unacknowledged metaphysics

Particles, particle labels, and quanta: The toll of unacknowledged metaphysics The practice of describing multiparticle quantum systems in terms of labeled particles indicates that we think of quantum entities as individuatable. The labels, together with particle indistinguishability, create the need for symmetrization or antisymmetrization (or, in principle, higher-order symmetries), which in turn results in “surplus formal structure” in the formalism, formal structure which corresponds to nothing in the real world. We argue that these facts show quanta to be unindividuatable entities, things in principle incapable of supporting labels, and so things which support no factual difference_if two of them are thought of as being switched. When thinking of the metaphysics of quanta, we should eschew the misleading labels of the tensor product Hilbert space formalism and prefer the ontologically more faithful description of the Fock space formalism. This conception eliminates puzzles about the quantum statistics of bosons. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Foundations of Physics Springer Journals

Particles, particle labels, and quanta: The toll of unacknowledged metaphysics

Foundations of Physics , Volume 21 (1) – Dec 18, 2004

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References (9)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright
Subject
Physics; History and Philosophical Foundations of Physics; Quantum Physics; Classical and Quantum Gravitation, Relativity Theory; Statistical Physics and Dynamical Systems; Classical Mechanics; Philosophy of Science
ISSN
0015-9018
eISSN
1572-9516
DOI
10.1007/BF01883562
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The practice of describing multiparticle quantum systems in terms of labeled particles indicates that we think of quantum entities as individuatable. The labels, together with particle indistinguishability, create the need for symmetrization or antisymmetrization (or, in principle, higher-order symmetries), which in turn results in “surplus formal structure” in the formalism, formal structure which corresponds to nothing in the real world. We argue that these facts show quanta to be unindividuatable entities, things in principle incapable of supporting labels, and so things which support no factual difference_if two of them are thought of as being switched. When thinking of the metaphysics of quanta, we should eschew the misleading labels of the tensor product Hilbert space formalism and prefer the ontologically more faithful description of the Fock space formalism. This conception eliminates puzzles about the quantum statistics of bosons.

Journal

Foundations of PhysicsSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 18, 2004

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