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  1. Two Approaches to Reduction: A Case Study from Statistical Mechanics.Bixin Guo - manuscript
    I argue that there are two distinct approaches to understand reduction: the ontology-first approach and the theory-first approach. Further, I argue for the significance of this distinction by demonstrating that either one or the other approach has been taken as an implicit assumption in, and has in fact shaped, our understanding of what statistical mechanics is. More specifically, I argue that the Boltzmannian framework of statistical mechanics assumes and relies on the ontology-first approach, whereas the Gibbsian framework should assume the (...)
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  • Interpretive analogies between quantum and statistical mechanics.C. D. McCoy - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):9.
    The conspicuous similarities between interpretive strategies in classical statistical mechanics and in quantum mechanics may be grounded on their employment of common implementations of probability. The objective probabilities which represent the underlying stochasticity of these theories can be naturally associated with three of their common formal features: initial conditions, dynamics, and observables. Various well-known interpretations of the two theories line up with particular choices among these three ways of implementing probability. This perspective has significant application to debates on primitive ontology (...)
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  • Did the Universe Have a Chance?C. D. McCoy - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1262-1272.
    In a world awash in statistical patterns, should we conclude that the universe’s evolution or genesis is somehow subject to chance? I draw attention to alternatives that must be acknowledged if we are to have an adequate assessment of what chance the universe might have had.
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  • Can somebody please say what Gibbsian statistical mechanics says?Roman Frigg & Charlotte Werndl - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:1-27.
    Gibbsian statistical mechanics is the most widely used version of statistical mechanics among working physicists. Yet a closer look at GSM reveals that it is unclear what the theory actually says and how it bears on experimental practice. The root cause of the difficulties is the status of the Averaging Principle, the proposition that what we observe in an experiment is the ensemble average of a phase function. We review different stances toward this principle, and eventually present a coherent interpretation (...)
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  • From Time Asymmetry to Quantum Entanglement: The Humean Unification.Eddy Keming Chen - 2022 - Noûs 56 (1):227-255.
    Two of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics are (1) what gives rise to the arrow of time and (2) what the ontology of quantum mechanics is. I propose a unified 'Humean' solution to the two problems. Humeanism allows us to incorporate the Past Hypothesis and the Statistical Postulate into the best system, which we then use to simplify the quantum state of the universe. This enables us to confer the nomological status to the quantum state in (...)
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  • The Wentaculus: Density Matrix Realism Meets the Arrow of Time.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    Two of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics are (1) what gives rise to the arrow of time and (2) what the ontology of quantum mechanics is. They are difficult because the fundamental dynamical laws of physics do not privilege an arrow of time, and the quantum-mechanical wave function describes a high-dimensional reality that is radically different from our ordinary experiences. -/- In this paper, I characterize and elaborate on the ``Wentaculus” theory, a new approach to time’s (...)
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  • Philosophy of statistical mechanics.Lawrence Sklar - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Historical and Conceptual Foundations of Information Physics.Anta Javier - 2021 - Dissertation, Universitat de Barcelona
    The main objective of this dissertation is to philosophically assess how the use of informational concepts in the field of classical thermostatistical physics has historically evolved from the late 1940s to the present day. I will first analyze in depth the main notions that form the conceptual basis on which 'informational physics' historically unfolded, encompassing (i) different entropy, probability and information notions, (ii) their multiple interpretative variations, and (iii) the formal, numerical and semantic-interpretative relationships among them. In the following, I (...)
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  • Time's Arrow in a Quantum Universe: On the Status of Statistical Mechanical Probabilities.Eddy Keming Chen - 2020 - In Valia Allori (ed.), Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature. World Scientific. pp. 479–515.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, it is standard to postulate that the initial wave function started in a particular macrostate---the special low-entropy macrostate selected by the Past Hypothesis. Moreover, there is an additional postulate about statistical mechanical probabilities according to which the initial wave function is a ''typical'' choice in the macrostate. Together, they support a probabilistic version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: typical initial wave functions will increase in entropy. Hence, there are two (...)
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  • Integrating Inferentialism about Physical Theories and Representations: A Case for Phase Diagrams.Javier Anta - 2021 - Critica 53 (158):47–77.
    In this paper we argue for an integrated inferential conception about theories and representations and its role in accounting for the theoretical value of philosophically disregarded representational practices, such as the systematic use of phase space diagrams within the theoretical context of statistical mechanics. This proposal would rely on both inferentialism about scientific representations (Suárez 2004) and inferentialism about particular physical theories (Wallace 2017). We defend that both perspectives somehow converge into an integrated inferentialism by means of the thesis theories (...)
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  • The Epistemic Schism of Statistical Mechanics.Javier Anta - 2021 - Theoria 36 (3):399-419.
    In this paper I will argue that the two main approaches to statistical mechanics, that of Boltzmann and Gibbs, constitute two substantially different theoretical apparatuses. Particularly, I defend that this theoretical split must be philosophically understood as a separation of epistemic functions within this physical domain: while Boltzmannians are able to generate powerful explanations of thermal phenomena from molecular dynamics, Gibbsians can statistically predict observable values in a highly effective way. Therefore, statistical mechanics is a counterexample to Hempel's (1958) symmetry (...)
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