Pauli Exclusion and Spatio-Temporal Coincidence

I have heard it said by people who fancy themselves physicists that Pauli exclusion is the explanation for why there cannot be two objects in the same place at the same time. This is claimed in criticism of my discussion of the latter principle in my book Basic Structures of Reality. It is completely wrong and totally misunderstands the principle in question. That principle has to do with questions of individuation and metaphysical necessity not the laws of physics (see David Wiggins’ classic discussion in “On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time” in Philosophical Review 1968). Pauli exclusion has to do with quantum states not quantum particulars, and anyway does not apply to many particles (only to fermions). Those who essay this criticism are clearly ignorant of the metaphysical issues at stake.

3 responses to “Pauli Exclusion and Spatio-Temporal Coincidence”

  1. I entirely agree. Two places at the same time?—See John Isner’s tennis serve to his opponent'[s racguet.

  2. Yeah, I flubbed it. I think I was confusing some form of “quantum superposition” with some form of “non-local entanglement”.—You see how I hedge my bets. Anyway, it was a good stab at a joke.

  3. jeffrey kessen says:

    Just watched your talk with Michael Shermer . Excellent. —notwithstanding all of his water drinking. ( I would recommend rather a light Zinfandell). I wonder if you could say something more definite about the scope and depth of the exercise of human intelligence. When do we think? When do we reason?—We think, we reason , when we do not “know”. When we do not ” know” what? When we do not know what to believe or what to do. These are the only two “generic” kinds of informational appetite,( doubtless in conjunction with various goal-inducing attitudes, feelings, values and emotions), that motivate exercise of the mechanisms of intelligence. But what are those mechanisms? Well, there are mechanisms of practical intelligence— of decision-making or choice— and there are mechanisms of epistemic intelligence —of belief or hyp0thesis fixation. On the latter side, there is deduction, induction and abduction. On the former side, there are various forms of utility-maximization and god-knows-how-many kinds of “fast-and-frugal hueristics”. Any thoughts?

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