David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Roughly speaking, classical statistical physics is the branch of theoretical physics that aims to account for the thermal behaviour of macroscopic bodies in terms of a classical mechanical model of their microscopic constituents, with the help of probabilistic assumptions. In the last century and a half, a fair number of approaches have been developed to meet this aim. This study of their foundations assesses their coherence and analyzes the motivations for their basic assumptions, and the interpretations of their central concepts. The most outstanding foundational problems are the explanation of time-asymmetry in thermal behaviour, the relative autonomy of thermal phenomena from their microscopic underpinning, and the meaning of probability. A more or less historic survey is given of the work of Maxwell, Boltzmann and Gibbs in statistical physics, and the problems and objections to which their work gave rise. Next, we review some modern approaches to (i) equilibrium statistical mechanics, such as ergodic theory and the theory of the thermodynamic limit; and to (ii) non-equilibrium statistical mechanics as provided by Lanford's work on the Boltzmann equation, the so-called Bogolyubov-Born-Green-Kirkwood-Yvon approach, and stochastic approaches such as `coarse-graining' and the `open systems' approach. In all cases, we focus on the subtle interplay between probabilistic assumptions, dynamical assumptions, initial conditions and other ingredients used in these approaches.
|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
Foad Dizadji-Bahmani, Roman Frigg & Stephan Hartmann (2010). Who's Afraid of Nagelian Reduction? Erkenntnis 73 (3):393-412.
Jill North (2010). An Empirical Approach to Symmetry and Probability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (1):27-40.
William Harper, Sheldon J. Chow & Gemma Murray (2012). Bayesian Chance. Synthese 186 (2):447-474.
Marij van Strien (2013). The Nineteenth Century Conflict Between Mechanism and Irreversibility. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):191-205.
Charlotte Werndl (2013). Justifying Typicality Measures of Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics and Dynamical Systems. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (4):470-479.
Similar books and articles
J. T. Ismael (2009). Probability in Deterministic Physics. Journal of Philosophy 106 (2):89-108.
Eric Winsberg (2008). Laws, Chances, and Statistical Mechanics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4):872.
Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.) (2010). Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press.
Craig Callender (2011). Hot and Heavy Matters in the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics. Foundations of Physics 41 (6):960-981.
Janneke van Lith (2001). Ergodic Theory, Interpretations of Probability and the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (4):581--94.
Stephen Leeds (2003). Foundations of Statistical Mechanics—Two Approaches. Philosophy of Science 70 (1):126-144.
David Wallace, Implications of Quantum Theory in the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics [2001 Online-Only].
Robert W. Batterman (1990). Irreversibility and Statistical Mechanics: A New Approach? Philosophy of Science 57 (3):395-419.
Lawrence Sklar (1993). Physics and Chance: Philosophical Issues in the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads112 ( #9,362 of 1,102,965 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #183,254 of 1,102,965 )
How can I increase my downloads?