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Weak discernability and the identity of spacetime points

Dieks, Dennis (2010) Weak discernability and the identity of spacetime points. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this article we investigate putative counterexamples to Leibniz’s principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles. In particular, we look at the status of spacetime points: although these all possess exactly the same properties in symmetrical spacetimes and thus seem indiscernible, there are certainly more than one of them. However, we shall defend Leibniz’s principle, even for such highly symmetrical cases. Part of our strategy will be to invoke the notion of “weak discernibility”, as proposed in the recent literature. Weakly discernible objects share all their properties (both monadic and relational) but stand in irreflexive relations to one another—this irreflexivity makes it possible to show that Leibniz's principle implies their numerical diversity. However, we shall argue that this notion of weak discernibility only serves its purpose if it is supplemented by a criterion of physical meaningfulness of the relations and relata in question; and that in the final analysis weak discernibility only helps out when it can be seen as a degenerate case of strong, absolute discernibility. The case of spacetime points is an example of such a situation.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Dieks, Dennisd.dieks@uu.nl
Additional Information: In revised form chapter in: “Space and Time: A Priori and A Posteriori Studies”, deGruyter, 2014; Vincenzo Fano, Francesco Orilia and Giovanni Macchia (Eds.). ISBN 978-3-11-034549-0, ISBN of e-book 978-3-11-034892-7.
Keywords: weak discernibility, identity, spacetime points
Subjects: General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dennis Dieks
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 21:59
Last Modified: 14 May 2014 21:59
Item ID: 10676
Subjects: General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 21 November 2010
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10676

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