, Volume 78, Issue 5, pp 1133–1142 | Cite as

On Witness-Discernibility of Elementary Particles

  • Øystein Linnebo
  • F. A. Muller
Original Article


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 



We want to thank two anonymous referees for some helpful remarks, and J. Ladyman, T. Bigaj and the members of the Bristol Structuralism Seminar for conversations on the subject-matter. Øystein Linnebo was supported by an ERC Starting Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Physics & AstronomyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyLondonUK

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