Entities without intrinsic physical identity

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Lam, Vincent
preprint description
This paper critically discusses recent objections that have been raised against the contextual understanding of fundamental physical objects advocated by non-eliminative ontic structural realism. One of these recent objections claims that such a purely relational understanding of objects cannot account for there being a determinate number of them. A more general objection concerns a well-known circularity threat: relations presuppose the objects they relate and so cannot account for them. A similar circularity objection has also been raised within the framework of the weak discernibility claims made in the last few years about quantum particles. We argue that these objections rely either on mere metaphysical prejudice or on confusing the logico-mathematical formalism within which a physical theory is formulated with the physical theory itself. Furthermore, we defend the motivations for taking numerical diversity as a primitive fact in this context.