David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (1):83-119 (2002)
Since the late nineteenth century, physics has been puzzled by the time-asymmetry of thermodynamic phenomena in the light of the apparent T-symmetry of the underlying laws of mechanics. However, a compelling solution to this puzzle has proved elusive. In part, I argue, this can be attributed to a failure to distinguish two conceptions of the problem. According to one, the main focus of our attention is a time-asymmetric lawlike generalisation. According to the other, it is a particular fact about the early universe. This paper aims (i) to distinguish these two different conceptions of the time-asymmetric explanandum in thermodynamics; (ii) to argue in favour of the latter; and (iii) to show that whichever we choose, our rational expectations about the thermodynamic behaviour of the future must depend on what we know about the past: contrary to the common view, statistical arguments alone do not give us good reason to expect that entropy will always continue to increase.
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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.
Jill North (2010). An Empirical Approach to Symmetry and Probability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (1):27-40.
C. D. McCoy (2015). Does Inflation Solve the Hot Big Bang Model׳s Fine-Tuning Problems? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 51:23-36.
Clint Ballinger (2007). Initial Conditions and the 'Open Systems' Argument Against Laws of Nature. Metaphysica 9 (1):17-31.
Huw Price (2002). Burbury's Last Case: The Mystery of the Entropic Arrow. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 50:19-56.
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