The Gibbs Paradox Revisited

  • Dennis Dieks
Conference paper
Part of the The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective book series (PSEP, volume 2)


The Gibbs paradox has frequently been interpreted as a sign that particles of the same kind are fundamentally indistinguishable; and that quantum mechanics, with its identical fermions and bosons, is indispensable for making sense of this. In this article we shall argue, on the contrary, that analysis of the paradox supports the idea that classical particles are always distinguishable. Perhaps surprisingly, this analysis extends to quantum mechanics: even according to quantum mechanics there can be distinguishable particles of the same kind. Our most important general conclusion will accordingly be that the universally accepted notion that quantum particles of the same kind are necessarily indistinguishable rests on a confusion about how particles are represented in quantum theory.


Wave Packet Classical Limit Classical Physic Quantum Particle Classical Particle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for History and Foundations of ScienceUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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