David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 71 (4):489-504 (2004)
In his recent book, Time and Chance, David Albert claims that by positing that there is a uniform probability distribution defined, on the standard measure, over the space of microscopic states that are compatible with both the current macrocondition of the world, and with what he calls the “past hypothesis”, we can explain the time asymmetry of all of the thermodynamic behavior in the world. The principal purpose of this paper is to dispute this claim. I argue that Albert's proposal fails in his stated goal—to show how to use the time‐reversible dynamics of Newtonian physics to “underwrite the actual content of our thermodynamic experience” (Albert 2000, 159). Albert's proposal can satisfactorily explain why the overall entropy of the universe as a whole is increasing, but it does not and cannot explain the increasing entropy of relatively small, relatively short‐lived systems in energetic isolation without making use of a principle that leads to reversibility objections.
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Citations of this work BETA
Christopher J. G. Meacham (2010). Contemporary Approaches to Statistical Mechanical Probabilities: A Critical Commentary - Part I: The Indifference Approach. Philosophy Compass 5 (12):1116-1126.
Joseph E. Earley (2006). Some Philosophical Influences on Ilya Prigogine's Statistical Mechanics. Foundations of Chemistry 8 (3):271-283.
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.
Orly Shenker & Meir Hemmo (2011). Introduction to the Philosophy of Statistical Mechanics: Can Probability Explain the Arrow of Time in the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Philosophy Compass 6 (9):640-651.
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