Discerning "indistinguishable" quantum systems

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Caulton, Adam
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In a series of recent papers, Simon Saunders, Fred Muller and Michael Seevinck have collectively argued, against the folklore, that some non-trivial version of Leibniz's principle of the identity of indiscernibles is upheld in quantum mechanics. They argue that all particles---fermions, paraparticles, anyons, even bosons---may be weakly discerned by some physical relation. Here I show that their arguments make illegitimate appeal to non-symmetric, i.e.~permutation-non-invariant, quantities, and that therefore their conclusions do not go through. However, I show that alternative, symmetric quantities may be found to do the required work. I conclude that the Saunders-Muller-Seevinck heterodoxy can be saved after all.