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Grades of Individuality

Morganti, Matteo and Dorato, Mauro (2011) Grades of Individuality. [Preprint]

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    This paper offers a critical assessment of the current state of the debate about the identity and individuality of material objects. Its main aim, in particular, is to show that, in a sense to be carefully specified, the opposition between the Leibnizian ‘reductionist’ tradition based on discernibility and the sort of ‘primitivism’ that denies that facts of identity and individuality must be analysable has become outdated. In particular, it is argued that – contrary to a widespread consensus - ‘naturalised’ metaphysics supports both the acceptability of non-qualitatively grounded (both ‘contextual’ and intrinsic) identity and a pluralistic approach to individuality and individuation. A case study is offered that focuses on non-relativistic quantum mechanics, in the context of which primitivism about identity and individuality, rather than being regarded as unscientific, is on the contrary suggested to be preferable to the complicated forms of reductionism that have recently been proposed. More generally, assuming a plausible form of anti-reductionism about scientific theories and domains, it is claimed that science can be regarded as compatible with, or even as suggesting, the existence of a series of equally plausible grades of individuality - the kind of individuality that prevails in a certain context and at a given level being ascertainable only on the basis of the specific scientific theory at hand.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in Philosophical Studies
    Keywords: Identity, Individuality, Reductionism, Primitivism, Indiscernibles, Quantum Mechanics
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
    Depositing User: Dr. Matteo Morganti
    Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2011 07:42
    Last Modified: 03 Nov 2011 07:42
    Item ID: 8871

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