Calling for explanation: the case of the thermodynamic past state

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-20 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Philosophers of physics have long debated whether the Past State of low entropy of our universe calls for explanation. What is meant by “calls for explanation”? In this article we analyze this notion, distinguishing between several possible meanings that may be attached to it. Taking the debate around the Past State as a case study, we show how our analysis of what “calling for explanation” might mean can contribute to clarifying the debate and perhaps to settling it, thus demonstrating the fruitfulness of this analysis. Applying our analysis, we show that two main opponents in this debate, Huw Price and Craig Callender, are, for the most part, talking past each other rather than disagreeing, as they employ different notions of “calling for explanation”. We then proceed to show how answering the different questions that arise out of the different meanings of “calling for explanation” can result in clarifying the problems at hand and thus, hopefully, to solving them.

Similar books and articles

The “Past Hypothesis”: Not even false.John Earman - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (3):399-430.
On the Carroll–Chen Model.Christopher Gregory Weaver - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):97-124.
The Limits of Explanation.Richard Swinburne - 1990 - Philosophy 27 (Supplement):177 - 193.
Fundamentality and Time’s Arrow.Christian Loew - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (3):483-500.
Thermodynamic asymmetry in time.Craig Callender - 2006 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The past hypothesis meets gravity.Craig Callender - 2010 - In Andreas Hüttemann & Gerhard Ernst (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 34-58.
On (Some) Explanations in Physics.James Owen Weatherall - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (3):421-447.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Psychological Arrow of Time.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2022 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (1):85-107.
Laws and Explanation in History. [REVIEW]M. S. F. - 1958 - Review of Metaphysics 11 (4):690-690.
Reintroducing prediction to explanation.Heather E. Douglas - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (4):444-463.
The shadows and shallows of explanation.Robert A. Wilson & Frank Keil - 1998 - Minds and Machines 8 (1):137-159.

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-04-26

Downloads
371 (#31,073)

6 months
73 (#14,798)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Dan Baras
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan
Orly Shenker
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

References found in this work

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Realism, Mathematics, and Modality.Hartry Field - 1988 - Philosophical Topics 16 (1):57-107.
Time and Chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Harvard University Press.

View all 79 references / Add more references