Information-Theoretic Statistical Mechanics without Landauer’s Principle

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):831-856 (2011)
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This article distinguishes two different senses of information-theoretic approaches to statistical mechanics that are often conflated in the literature: those relating to the thermodynamic cost of computational processes and those that offer an interpretation of statistical mechanics where the probabilities are treated as epistemic. This distinction is then investigated through Earman and Norton’s ([1999]) ‘sound’ and ‘profound’ dilemma for information-theoretic exorcisms of Maxwell’s demon. It is argued that Earman and Norton fail to countenance a ‘sound’ information-theoretic interpretation and this paper describes how the latter inferential interpretations can escape the criticisms of Earman and Norton ([1999]) and Norton ([2005]) by adopting this ‘sound’ horn. This article considers a standard model of Maxwell’s demon to illustrate how one might adopt an information-theoretic approach to statistical mechanics without a reliance on Landauer’s principle, where the incompressibility of the probability distribution due to Liouville’s theorem is taken as the central feature of such an interpretation



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Citations of this work

Paradojas Epistémicas en la Aproximación Informacional a la Física Térmica.Javier Anta - 2020 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 24 (3):477-501.
Historical and Conceptual Foundations of Information Physics.Anta Javier - 2021 - Dissertation, Universitat de Barcelona

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Time and chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Science and information theory.Léon Brillouin - 1956 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications.
Time and Chance.S. French - 2005 - Mind 114 (453):113-116.

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