Single Idea 12971

[catalogued under 9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / b. Individuation by properties]

Full Idea

If two individuals were perfectly similar and equal and, in short, indistinguishable in themselves, there would be no principle of individuation.

Gist of Idea

If two individuals could be indistinguishable, there could be no principle of individuation


Gottfried Leibniz (New Essays on Human Understanding [1704], 2.27)

Book Reference

Leibniz,Gottfried: 'New Essays on Human Understanding', ed/tr. Remnant/Bennett [CUP 1996], p.230

A Reaction

This seems to be the main motive for Leibniz's unusual claim that there cannot be two indiscernible individuals, but it looks suspiciously like an a priori claim made about what should be an a posteriori discovery. Are electrons distinguishable?