Original Article


, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 67-84

First online:

Ontic Structural Realism and the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles

  • Peter AinsworthAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Bristol Email author 

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Recently, there has been a debate as to whether or not the principle of the identity of indiscernibles (the PII) is compatible with quantum physics. It is also sometimes argued that the answer to this question has implications for the debate over the tenability of ontic structural realism (OSR). The central aim of this paper is to establish what relationship there is (if any) between the PII and OSR. It is argued that one common interpretation of OSR is undermined if the PII turns out to be false, since it is committed to a version of the bundle theory of objects, which implies the PII. However, if OSR is understood as the physical analogue of (sophisticated) mathematical structuralism then OSR does not imply the PII. It is further noted that it is (arguably) a virtue of OSR that it is compatible with a version of the PII for possible worlds.