Original Article


, Volume 78, Issue 5, pp 1133-1142

First online:

On Witness-Discernibility of Elementary Particles

  • Øystein LinneboAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy
  • , F. A. MullerAffiliated withFaculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University RotterdamDepartment of Physics & Astronomy, Utrecht University Email author 

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In the context of discussions about the nature of ‘identical particles’ and the status of Leibniz’s Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles in Quantum Mechanics, a novel kind of physical discernibility has recently been proposed, which we call witness-discernibility. We inquire into how witness-discernibility relates to known kinds of discernibility. Our conclusion will be that for a wide variety of cases, including the intended quantum-mechanical ones, witness-discernibility collapses extensionally to absolute discernibility, that is, to discernibility by properties.


Elementary particles Quantum mechanics Discernibility Leibniz’s principle Identity