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Profile: Jill North (Cornell University)
  1. Jill North, The Structure of Classical Mechanics.
    How do we learn about the nature of the world from the mathematical formulation of a physical theory? One rule we follow, familiar from spacetime theorizing: posit the least amount of spacetime structure required by the fundamental dynamical laws. I think that we should extend this rule beyond spacetime structure. We should extend the rule to statespace structure. Using this rule, I argue that a classical mechanical world has a surprisingly spare amount of structure.
     
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  2. Jill North (2013). Geometric Possibility. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 122 (3):522-525.
  3. Jill North, The Structure of a Quantum World.
    I argue that the fundamental space of a quantum mechanical world is the wavefunction's space. I argue for this using some very general principles that guide our inferences to the fundamental nature of a world, for any fundamental physical theory. I suggest that ordinary three-dimensional space exists in such a world, but is non-fundamental; it emerges from the fundamental space of the wavefunction.
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  4. Jill North (2011). Time in Thermodynamics. In Criag Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time. Oxford. 312--350.
    Or better: time asymmetry in thermodynamics. Better still: time asymmetry in thermodynamic phenomena. “Time in thermodynamics” misleadingly suggests that thermodynamics will tell us about the fundamental nature of time. But we don’t think that thermodynamics is a fundamental theory. It is a theory of macroscopic behavior, often called a “phenomenological science.” And to the extent that physics can tell us about the fundamental features of the world, including such things as the nature of time, we generally think that only fundamental (...)
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  5. Jill North (2010). An Empirical Approach to Symmetry and Probability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (1):27-40.
    We often use symmetries to infer outcomes’ probabilities, as when we infer that each side of a fair coin is equally likely to come up on a given toss. Why are these inferences successful? I argue against answering this with an a priori indifference principle. Reasons to reject that principle are familiar, yet instructive. They point to a new, empirical explanation for the success of our probabilistic predictions. This has implications for indifference reasoning in general. I argue that a priori (...)
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  6. Jill North (2009). The “Structure” of Physics. Journal of Philosophy 106 (2):57-88.
    We are used to talking about the “structure” posited by a given theory of physics. We say that relativity is a theory about spacetime structure. Special relativity posits one spacetime structure; different models of general relativity posit different spacetime structures. We also talk of the “existence” of these structures. Special relativity says the world’s spacetime structure is Minkowskian: it posits that this spacetime structure exists. Understanding structure in this sense seems important for understanding what physics is telling us about the (...)
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  7. Jill North (2008). Review of Max Jammer, Concepts of Simultaneity: From Antiquity to Einstein and Beyond. [REVIEW] American Scientist 96 (1).
    Max Jammer’s recent book, Concepts of Simultaneity: From Antiquity to Einstein and Beyond, traces the history of our ideas on simultaneity as they evolved alongside sweeping changes in our understanding of physics. One of the interesting lessons of the book is that, even as our physical theories have become increasingly successful, the question of the proper understanding or interpretation of those theories remains extremely puzzling. The central issue is this: Is the simultaneity of events a real feature of the world? (...)
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  8. Jill North (2008). Book Review. Concepts of Simultaneity: From Antiquity to Einstein and Beyond. Max Jammer. [REVIEW] American Scienctist 98 (1).
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  9. Jill North (2008). Two Views on Time Reversal. Philosophy of Science 75 (2):201-223.
    In a recent paper, Malament (2004) employs a time reversal transformation that differs from the standard one, without explicitly arguing for it. This is a new and important understanding of time reversal that deserves arguing for in its own right. I argue that it improves upon the standard one. Recent discussion has focused on whether velocities should undergo a time reversal operation. I address a prior question: What is the proper notion of time reversal? This is important, for it will (...)
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  10. Jill North (2007). Mathias Frisch:Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non‐Locality: A Philosophical Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics,:Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non‐Locality: A Philosophical Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 74 (4):555-558.
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  11. Jill North (2007). Review of Mathias Frisch, Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non-Locality: A Philosophical Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 74:555-558.
    This book is a stimulating and engaging discussion of philosophical issues in the foundations of classical electromagnetism. In the rst half, Frisch argues against the standard conception of the theory as consistent and local. The second half is devoted to the puzzle of the arrow of radiation: the fact that waves behave asymmetrically in time, though the laws governing their evolution are temporally symmetric. The book is worthwhile for anyone interested in understanding the physical theory of electromagnetism, as well for (...)
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  12. Jill North (2003). Understanding the Time-Asymmetry of Radiation. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1086-1097.
    I discuss the nature of the puzzle about the time‐asymmetry of radiation and argue that its most common formulation is flawed. As a result, many proposed solutions fail to solve the real problem. I discuss a recent proposal of Mathias Frisch as an example of the tendency to address the wrong problem. I go on to suggest that the asymmetry of radiation, like the asymmetry of thermodynamics, results from the initial state of the universe.
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  13. Jill North (2002). What is the Problem About the Time-Asymmetry of Thermodynamics?--A Reply to Price. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (1):121-136.
    Huw Price argues that there are two conceptions of the puzzle of the time-asymmetry of thermodynamics. He thinks this puzzle has remained unsolved for so long partly due to a misunderstanding about which of these conceptions is the right one and what form a solution ought to take. I argue that it is Price's understanding of the problem which is mistaken. Further, it is on the basis of this and other misunderstandings that he disparages a type of account which does, (...)
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  14. Jill North, Structure in Classical Mechanics.
    How do we learn about the fundamental nature of the world from a mathematically formulated physical theory? To learn about spacetime, we follow this rule: posit the least spacetime structure to the world required by a theory’s dynamical laws. Applied to special relativity, for example, this rule tells us to not posit an absolute simultaneity structure. I suggest that we should use this rule for more than just spacetime structure. We should use the rule for statespace, positing the least statespace (...)
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