Quantum decoherence and the approach to equilibrium

Philosophy of Science 70 (2):330-358 (2003)
Abstract
We discuss a recent proposal by Albert (1994a; 1994b; 2000, ch. 7) to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the wave function by Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber (1986). We propose an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no-collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. Our approach relies on the standard quantum mechanical models of environmental decoherence of open systems (e.g., Joos and Zeh 1985; Zurek and Paz 1994). This paper presents the two approaches and discusses their advantages. The problems faced by both approaches will be discussed in a sequel (Hemmo and Shenker 2003).
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