### Abstract

If quantum mechanics (QM) is to be taken as an atomistic theory with the elementary particles as atoms (an ATEP), then the elementary particlcs must be individuals. There must then be, for each elementary particle a, a property "being identical with a" that a alone has. But according to QM, elementary particles of the same kind share all physical properties. Thus, if QM is an ATEP, identity is a metaphysical but not a physical property. That has unpalatable consequences. Dropping the assumption that QM is an ATEP makes it possible to replace the assumption that elementary particles are individuals with the assumption that there are various kinds of elementary 'stuff' that have smallest quantities - the smallest quantity of light, for example, is a photon. The problems about identity disappear, and the explanatory virtues of an ATEP are maintained.

Original language | English (US) |
---|---|

Pages (from-to) | 253-271 |

Number of pages | 19 |

Journal | Synthese |

Volume | 89 |

Issue number | 2 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - Nov 1991 |

Externally published | Yes |

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### ASJC Scopus subject areas

- Social Sciences(all)

### Cite this

*Synthese*,

*89*(2), 253-271. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00413907

**Is quantum mechanics an atomistic theory?** / Lavine, Shaughan M.

Research output: Contribution to journal › Article

*Synthese*, vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 253-271. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00413907

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Is quantum mechanics an atomistic theory?

AU - Lavine, Shaughan M

PY - 1991/11

Y1 - 1991/11

N2 - If quantum mechanics (QM) is to be taken as an atomistic theory with the elementary particles as atoms (an ATEP), then the elementary particlcs must be individuals. There must then be, for each elementary particle a, a property "being identical with a" that a alone has. But according to QM, elementary particles of the same kind share all physical properties. Thus, if QM is an ATEP, identity is a metaphysical but not a physical property. That has unpalatable consequences. Dropping the assumption that QM is an ATEP makes it possible to replace the assumption that elementary particles are individuals with the assumption that there are various kinds of elementary 'stuff' that have smallest quantities - the smallest quantity of light, for example, is a photon. The problems about identity disappear, and the explanatory virtues of an ATEP are maintained.

AB - If quantum mechanics (QM) is to be taken as an atomistic theory with the elementary particles as atoms (an ATEP), then the elementary particlcs must be individuals. There must then be, for each elementary particle a, a property "being identical with a" that a alone has. But according to QM, elementary particles of the same kind share all physical properties. Thus, if QM is an ATEP, identity is a metaphysical but not a physical property. That has unpalatable consequences. Dropping the assumption that QM is an ATEP makes it possible to replace the assumption that elementary particles are individuals with the assumption that there are various kinds of elementary 'stuff' that have smallest quantities - the smallest quantity of light, for example, is a photon. The problems about identity disappear, and the explanatory virtues of an ATEP are maintained.

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U2 - 10.1007/BF00413907

DO - 10.1007/BF00413907

M3 - Article

VL - 89

SP - 253

EP - 271

JO - Synthese

JF - Synthese

SN - 0039-7857

IS - 2

ER -