Contextuality and indistinguishability

José Acacio De Barros, Federico Holik, Décio Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


It is well known that in quantum mechanics we cannot always define consistently properties that are context independent. Many approaches exist to describe contextual properties, such as Contextuality by Default (CbD), sheaf theory, topos theory, and non-standard or signed probabilities. In this paper, we propose a treatment of contextual properties that is specific to quantum mechanics, as it relies on the relationship between contextuality and indistinguishability. In particular, we propose that if we assume the ontological thesis that quantum particles or properties can be indistinguishable yet different, no contradiction arising from a Kochen-Specker-type argument appears: when we repeat an experiment, we are in reality performing an experiment measuring a property that is indistinguishable from the first, but not the same. We will discuss how the consequences of this move may help us understand quantum contextuality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number435
Number of pages22
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • Indistinguishability
  • Kochen-Specker theorem
  • Quantum contextuality
  • Quasi-sets


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