Indistinguishable entities are usually thought to be exactly alike, but not so in quantum mechanics — nor need the concept be restricted to the quantum domain. The concept, properly understood, can be applied in any context in which the only dynamically-salient state-independent properties are the same (so a fortiori in classical statistical mechanics). The connection with the Gibbs paradox, and the reasons why the concept of classical indistinguishable particles has been so long resisted, are also discussed. The latter involves some background in the early history of quantum mechanics. This work builds on a recent publication, ‘The Gibbs Paradox’, Entropy (2018) 20(8), 552.
Philosophy of Physics Seminar Convenor: Dr Adam Caulton