Statistical Mechanics and the Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence

Philosophy of Science 68 (3):313-324 (2000)
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Abstract

In "Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow", David Lewis defends an analysis of counterfactuals intended to yield the asymmetry of counterfactual dependence: that later affairs depend counterfactually on earlier ones, and not the other way around. I argue that careful attention to the dynamical properties of thermodynamically irreversible processes shows that in many ordinary cases, Lewis's analysis fails to yield this asymmetry. Furthermore, the analysis fails in an instructive way: it teaches us something about the connection between the asymmetry of overdetermination and the asymmetry of entropy.

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Adam Elga
Princeton University

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

The emperor’s new mind.Roger Penrose - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
Causal decision theory.David Lewis - 1981 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 59 (1):5 – 30.

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