David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Late in the nineteenth century, physics noticed a puzzling conflict between the laws of physics and what actually happens. The laws make no distinction between past and future—if they allow a process to happen one way, they allow it in reverse.1 But many familiar processes are in practice ‘irreversible’, common in one orientation but unknown ‘backwards’. Air leaks out of a punctured tyre, for example, but never leaks back in. Hot drinks cool down to room temperature, but never spontaneously heat up. Once we start looking, these examples are all around us—that’s why films shown in reverse often look odd. Hence the puzzle: What could be the source of this widespread temporal bias in the world, if the underlying laws are so even-handed? Call this the Puzzle of Temporal Bias, or PTB for short. It’s an oft-told tale how other puzzles of the late nineteenth century soon led to the two most famous achievements of twentieth century physics, relativity and quantum mechanics. Progress on PTB was much slower, but late in the twentieth century cosmology provided a spectacular answer, or partial answer, to this deep puzzle. Because the phenomena at the heart of PTB are so familiar, so ubiquitous, and so crucial to our own existence, the achievement is one of the most important in the entire history of physics. Yet it is littleknown and underrated, at least compared to the other twentieth century solutions to nineteenth century puzzles. Why is it underrated? Partly because people underestimate the original puzzle, or misunderstand it, and so don’t see what a big part of it is addressed by the new cosmology. And partly for a deeper, more philosophical reason, connected with the view that we don’t need to explain initial conditions. This has two effects. First, people undervalue the job done so far by cosmology, in telling us something very surprising..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Roberto Torretti (1999). The Philosophy of Physics. Cambridge University Press.
Huw Price (2002). Boltzmann's Time Bomb. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (1):83-119.
Richard Staley (2008). Einstein's Generation: The Origins of the Relativity Revolution. University of Chicago Press.
James T. Cushing (1998). Philosophical Concepts in Physics: The Historical Relation Between Philosophy and Scientific Theories. Cambridge University Press.
Alan Rocke (2013). What Did “Theory” Mean to Nineteenth-Century Chemists? Foundations of Chemistry 15 (2):145-156.
Gordon Fraser (ed.) (2009). The New Physics for the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge University Press.
C. W. Kilmister (1994/2005). Eddington's Search for a Fundamental Theory: A Key to the Universe. Cambridge University Press.
Added to index2011-04-02
Total downloads86 ( #33,370 of 1,725,090 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #93,209 of 1,725,090 )
How can I increase my downloads?