On the time reversal invariance of classical electromagnetic theory

David Albert claims that classical electromagnetic theory is not time reversal invariant. He acknowledges that all physics books say that it is, but claims they are ``simply wrong" because they rely on an incorrect account of how the time reversal operator acts on magnetic fields. On that account, electric fields are left intact by the operator, but magnetic fields are inverted. Albert sees no reason for the asymmetric treatment, and insists that neither field should be inverted. I argue, to the contrary, that the inversion of magnetic fields makes good sense and is, in fact, forced by elementary geometric considerations. I also suggest a way of thinking about the time reversal invariance of classical electromagnetic theory -- one that makes use of the invariant (four-dimensional) formulation of the theory -- that makes no reference to magnetic fields at all. It is my hope that it will be of interest in its own right, Albert aside. It has the advantage that it allows for arbitrary curvature in the background spacetime structure, and is therefore suitable for the framework of general relativity. (The only assumption one needs is temporal orientability.).
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2003.09.006
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References found in this work BETA
John Earman (2002). What Time Reversal Invariance is and Why It Matters. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (3):245 – 264.

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Citations of this work BETA
John Earman (2006). The “Past Hypothesis”: Not Even False. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 37 (3):399-430.
Frank Arntzenius & Hilary Greaves (2009). Time Reversal in Classical Electromagnetism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):557-584.
Daniel Peterson (2015). Prospects for a New Account of Time Reversal. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 49:42-56.

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