Authors
Huw Price
Cambridge University
Abstract
Since the late nineteenth century, physics has been puzzled by the time-asymmetry of thermodynamic phenomena in the light of the apparent T-symmetry of the underlying laws of mechanics. However, a compelling solution to this puzzle has proved elusive. In part, I argue, this can be attributed to a failure to distinguish two conceptions of the problem. According to one, the main focus of our attention is a time-asymmetric lawlike generalisation. According to the other, it is a particular fact about the early universe. This paper aims (i) to distinguish these two different conceptions of the time-asymmetric explanandum in thermodynamics; (ii) to argue in favour of the latter; and (iii) to show that whichever we choose, our rational expectations about the thermodynamic behaviour of the future must depend on what we know about the past: contrary to the common view, statistical arguments alone do not give us good reason to expect that entropy will always continue to increase.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/bjps/53.1.83
Options
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: 69,066
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Emperor’s New Mind.Roger Penrose - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
Asymmetries in Time.Paul Horwich - 1990 - Noûs 24 (5):804-806.
Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point.Huw Price - 1996 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 59 (4):1093-1096.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Conventionalism About Time Direction.Matt Farr - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-21.
The “Past Hypothesis”: Not Even False.John Earman - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (3):399-430.
Calling for explanation: the case of the thermodynamic past state.Dan Baras & Orly Shenker - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-20.

View all 29 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
267 ( #39,796 of 2,498,777 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #422,193 of 2,498,777 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes