, Volume 190, Issue 16, pp 3475-3494
Date: 08 Oct 2012

Wither away individuals

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Abstract

In this paper we deal with the problem of identity and individuality in quantum mechanics. We analyze three definitions of the concept of an individual and propose to check their merits in relation to the theory. In order to achieve our goals our approach also ties those definitions of individuality to two distinct kinds of naturalism in ontology: a strong version, according to which quantum mechanics must somehow authorize in a positive fashion the ontological concepts being dealt with, and a weak naturalism, according to which quantum mechanics must be only compatible with those ontological concepts. We conclude that strong naturalism is incompatible with the three concepts of individuality in quantum mechanics, and we argue that weak naturalism is not completely motivated, so that the best position to be assumed, in the end, is that the entities are simply not individuals. That is, in its craving to be compatible with strong naturalism, individuality ends up evaporating and we are left with non-individuals.