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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 15, 2008


Matteo Morganti
Pages 167-173

Identity, Individuality and Indiscernibility

This paper deals with the identity and individuality of material objects. In particular, the view that identity is derivative on the qualities of things, based on the endorsement of the Principle of the Identity of the Indiscernibles, is studied in detail. This provides what seems to be a much-needed unitary look at, and up-to-date critical analysis of, the vast literature on the Identity of the Indiscernibles. It is concluded that the ‘reductionist’ view, dating back to Quine and, earlier, to Leibniz, possesses no compelling justification, neither from the conceptual, a priori point of view, nor from the methodological perspective, nor as far as empirical evidence (as the latter is described by our best current science) is concerned. That is to say, the Principle has not been (perhaps, cannot be) shown to be either a necessary or a contingent truth. Therefore, it can be argued that the whole reductionist view of the individuality of material entities can be dispensed with in favour of an interpretation of reality in terms of objects provided with primitive identity. A suggestion in this latter sense that preserves the appeal of a property-based ontology is very briefly made.

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