Dissertation, University of South Florida (2014)

Emre Keskin
University of South Florida
This project is about the asymmetry of time. The main source of discontent for physicists and philosophers alike is that even though in every physical theory we developed and/or discovered for explaining how the universe functions, the laws are time reversal invariant; there seems to be a very genuine asymmetry between the past and the future. The aim of this project is to examine several attempts to solve this friction between the laws of physics and the asymmetry and provide a new proposal that makes use of modern cosmology. In the recent history of physics and in contemporary philosophy of science there have been several attempts to explain the asymmetry of time and reconcile this asymmetry with time reversal invariant physical laws. David Albert developed one of the most recent attempts at solving the problem in Time and Chance. Albert claims that there is a conclusive solution to the problem of asymmetry of time: namely, combining the laws of mechanics with several novel concepts that he introduces, the most important of which is what he calls "the past hypothesis". Eric Winsberg developed another modern attempt to solve the problem of the asymmetry of time. Winsberg combines Hans Reichenbach's branch systems proposal with a "framework" view of laws to solve the problem. Although this version of the branch systems proposal overcomes several problems associated with Reichenbach's original construction of the proposal, certain aspects of it are still open to critique. Following a brief introduction, my chapters include 1) a history of the problem of the asymmetry of time, in which I provide a historical overview of the issues particularly discussed by Boltzmann and his interlocutors, 2) a detailed evaluation of David Albert's account of the asymmetry of time, where he argues that we can solve all the problems if we use a combination of laws of physics and the past hypothesis, 3) a detailed overview of Eric Winsberg's account that depends a specific way of looking at the laws of physics--the framework view, and 4) my account, which attempts to solve the problem of the asymmetry of time, making extensive use of the developments on modern cosmology, specifically regarding the inflationary mechanism. I claim that if we take into account recent developments in modern cosmology and proposals for laws for initial conditions, then we cannot maintain the metaphysical status of the past hypothesis in Albert's project. Specifically, I argue that in order for a theory to make use of initial conditions of the universe, it has to include a set of laws from modern cosmology pertaining to that initial condition. I defend the position that inflation can supply the source of asymmetry when supported by the aggregate view of laws, which I introduce in the last chapter. The explanation of the asymmetry of time requires the use of dynamical equations from modern cosmology that would produce the boundary conditions. The boundary condition produced in this way would fill in for the source of the asymmetry of time. Consequently, I argue that the explanation of the asymmetry of time is encoded in the laws of modern cosmology.
Keywords Philosophy of Science  Cosmology  Time  Inflation
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,393
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.

View all 41 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Understanding the Time‐Asymmetry of Radiation.Jill North - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1086-1097.
Laws and Statistical Mechanics.Eric Winsberg - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):707-718.
Thermodynamic Asymmetry in Time.Craig Callender - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Time in Thermodynamics.Jill North - 2011 - In Criag Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time. Oxford University Press. pp. 312--350.
Time and Irreversibility in an Accelerating Universe.Gustavo E. Romero & Daniela Pérez - 2011 - International Journal of Modern Physics D 20:2831-2838.
Epistemological Time Asymmetry.Steven F. Savitt - 1990 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:317 - 324.
Time's Arrow in an Oscillating Universe.Allan Walstad - 1980 - Foundations of Physics 10 (9-10):743-749.
Memory, Imagination, and the Asymmetry Between Past and Future.Bjorn Merker - 2007 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (3):325-326.
The Origins of Time-Asymmetry in Thermodynamics: The Minus First Law.R. H., Uffink &Unknown & J. - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (4):525-538.
Backtracking Influence.Douglas Kutach - 2011 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (1):55-71.


Added to PP index

Total views
16 ( #643,108 of 2,448,957 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #443,144 of 2,448,957 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes