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Identity in Cognitive Science, Quantum Mechanics, and Metaphysics

English title Identity in Cognitive Science, Quantum Mechanics, and Metaphysics
Applicant Mulligan Kevin
Number 185435
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Istituto di Studi Filosofici Facoltà di Teologia di Lugano Università della Svizzera Italiana
Institution of higher education Università della Svizzera italiana - USI
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.08.2019 - 31.12.2021
Approved amount 264'775.00
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Keywords (6)

identity; metaphysics; quantum mechanics; distinctness; cognitive science; essence

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Identität ist die Relation in welcher jeder Gegenstand zu sich selbst steht. Philosophen interessieren sich für Identität nicht nur um ihrer selbst willen, sondern auch, weil Identität als Grundbegriff entscheidende Rollen in Erklärungen philosophischer Begriffe wie beispielsweise "Person", "Objekt" oder "Zahl" spielt. Einer unter Philosophen weit verbreiteten Ansicht zufolge ist Identität einfach, unproblematisch und bedarf keiner weiteren Klärung.
Lay summary

Der Grundgedanke dieses Projekts ist es, dass diese Ansicht aufgrund philosophischer Argumente, philosophischer Interpretationen bestimmter Aspekte der Quantenmechanik und Studien aus der Kognitionswissenschaft hinterfragt und neu bewertet werden muss. Das Ziel dieses Projekts ist es, eine solche Neubewertung systematisch durchzuführen.

Im Zuge des Projektes werden wir hauptsächlich zwei verschiedene Typen von Argumenten untersuchen. Erstens, Argumente welche die Existenz der Identitätsrelation in Frage stellen. Solche Argumente finden sich nicht nur in der philosophischen Literatur zur Metaphysik, sondern werden auch von der Physik und insbesondere von der Quantenmechanik ununterscheidbarer Teilchen nahe gelegt. Zweitens werden wir Argumente untersuchen, welche nicht die Existenz, sondern den Status der Identitätsrelation als den einer fundamentalen Relation in Frage stellen. Argumente solcher Art finden sich in der philosophischen Literatur, aber lassen sich auch aus kognitionswissenschaftlichen Studien ableiten.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.04.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Publications

Publication
The modal status of the laws of nature. Tahko’s hybrid view and the kinematical/dynamical distinction
Hirèche Salim, Linnemann Niels, Michels Robert, Vogt Lisa (2021), The modal status of the laws of nature. Tahko’s hybrid view and the kinematical/dynamical distinction, in European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 11(1), 25-25.
The strong arm of the law: a unified account of necessary and contingent laws of nature
Hirèche Salim, Linnemann Niels, Michels Robert, Vogt Lisa (2021), The strong arm of the law: a unified account of necessary and contingent laws of nature, in Synthese, 199, 10211-10252.
Husserlian Eidetic Variation and Objectual Understanding as a Basis for an Epistemology of Essence
MichelsRobert (2020), Husserlian Eidetic Variation and Objectual Understanding as a Basis for an Epistemology of Essence, in Logos & Episteme, XI(3), 333-353.
Fine's Monster Objection Defanged
CostaDamiano, CecconiAlessandro, CalosiClaudio, Fine's Monster Objection Defanged, in Philosophical Quarterly.
Plural Metaphysical Supervaluationism
Mariani Cristian, Michels Robert, Torrengo Giuliano, Plural Metaphysical Supervaluationism, in Inquiry.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of Bremen Germany (Europe)
- Publication
eidos/University of Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
FU Berlin Germany (Europe)
- Publication
Geneva Symmetry Group/University of Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Centre for Philosophy of Time/University of Milan Italy (Europe)
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
GEM colloquium Talk given at a conference The Perils of Aristotelian Realism 03.12.2021 Collège du France, Paris, France Costa Damiano;
ECAP 10 Talk given at a conference Lewis's Counterpart Theory and the Aufbau 24.08.2021 Online, Utrecht University, Netherlands Michels Robert;
Society for the Study of the History of Analytical Philosophy Conference 2021 Talk given at a conference Lewis's Counterpart Theory 14.07.2021 Online, University of Vienna, Austria Michels Robert;
Handbook of Essence workshop Talk given at a conference Contemporary History of Essence (Continental) 09.07.2021 Online, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland Mulligan Kevin;
Handbook of Essence workshop Talk given at a conference Essence in 20th Century Analytic Philosophy 09.07.2021 Online, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland Michels Robert;
Properties, Relations, and Relational States Talk given at a conference Truthmakers for Identity Claims 19.10.2020 Lugano, Switzerland Waechter Jonas;
Properties, Relations, and Relational States Talk given at a conference Graded Properties 19.10.2020 USI, Lugano, Switzerland Michels Robert;
Eidos Seminar Talk given at a conference On the Existential Dependency of Ephemerals 23.04.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Waechter Jonas;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Identity in Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science 06.06.2021 USI (Online), Switzerland
Workshop on Identity 07.03.2020 Università della Svizzera italiana - cancelled due to COVID-19, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Public roundtable on artificial intelligence and personal identity Italian-speaking Switzerland 2021
Talks/events/exhibitions Tempo al Tempo Italian-speaking Switzerland 2021

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
173040 Connectives, Predicates, and Priority 01.06.2017 Project funding

Abstract

Identity is the relation every object bears to itself and to no other thing. Thus understood, identity is a core concept in philosophy. Not only has identity been a topic of discussion since the birth of the discipline, it also plays a crucial role in explaining other concepts such as those of person, object, and number. For example, to understand what a person is, we must understand what it takes for a person to still count as the same person after going through a period of time in which it may undergo substantial change. Even though the notion is crucially involved in explanations of other concepts, the received view in philosophy is that identity is simple, unproblematic, and in no need of further explanation. This special status of identity is arguably what motivates an important recent trend in metaphysics. This trend consists in relying on notions of generalized identity to define other important metaphysical notions such as those of grounding, fundamentality, or essence, which have traditionally been assumed to be systematically related to that of identity simpliciter (see Correia and Skiles forthcoming; Fine 2015).The starting point of this project is the observation that the received view that identity is simple, unproblematic, and in no need of further explanation ignores the challenges arising from important philosophical arguments and the philosophical interpretation of certain aspects of quantum mechanics. Furthermore, studies in cognitive science might be understood as undermining the idea that the concept of identity is unproblematic. The main objective of this research project is to evaluate the received view of identity in light of these challenges. To achieve this goal, we will systematically investigate and critically discuss the two major kinds of arguments against the received view of identity. Arguments of the first kind question the existence of the relation of identity. Such arguments (to be studied in subproject A1) have been proposed in the philosophical literature on identity, in particular in the metaphysical literature. They are also suggested by contemporary physics, in particular by the quantum mechanics of indiscernible particles (that will be studied in subproject B1). The second kind of arguments (to be studied in subproject A2) questions not the existence of the identity relation, but rather its claim to fundamentality. Besides the philosophical literature, an important source of this kind of argument are studies in cognitive science which appear to provide reasons for denying to identity the status of a fundamental concept (to be studied in subproject B2) To pursue these aims and achieve the overall goal of the project, we will study the relevant literature in philosophy, physics, and cognitive science. We will analyse and develop arguments explicitly made or merely suggested therein. We will test these arguments by drawing on methods from logic, semantics, and conceptual analysis-the construction of relevant thought experiments and counterexamples. As the main result of the project, we expect to either vindicate the received view that identity is simple, unproblematic, and explanatorily fundamental, or to make a case against this view based on the results of the project. The project outcomes will be important to the many discussions and theories in philosophy that explicitly or implicitly rely on identity, and may prove interesting to researchers from other disciplines like cognitive science, whose work touches on identity or closely related notions.
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