The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Psychological Arrow of Time


Authors
Orly Shenker
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Meir Hemmo
University of Haifa
Abstract
Can the second law of thermodynamics explain our mental experience of the direction of time? According to an influential approach, the past hypothesis of universal low entropy also explains how the psychological arrow comes about. We argue that although this approach has many attractive features, it cannot explain the psychological arrow after all. In particular, we show that the past hypothesis is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain the psychological arrow on the basis of current physics. We propose two necessary conditions on the workings of the brain that any account of the psychological arrow of time must satisfy. And we propose a new reductive physical account of the psychological arrow of time compatible with time-symmetric physics, according to which these two conditions are also sufficient. Our proposal has some radical implications, for example, that the psychological arrow of time is fundamental, whereas the temporal direction of entropy increase in the second law of thermodynamics and the past hypothesis is derived from it, rather than the other way around.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axz038
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References found in this work BETA

Time and Chance.David Albert - 2005 - Mind 114 (453):113-116.
Two Accounts of Laws and Time.Barry Loewer - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):115-137.
The “Past Hypothesis”: Not Even False.John Earman - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (3):399-430.
Determinism and Chance.Barry Loewer - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (4):609-620.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas van Fraassen - 1989 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 182 (3):327-329.

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