Philosophy Compass 12 (12):e12464 (2017)

Orly Shenker
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Statistical mechanics is the name of the ongoing attempt to explain and predict certain phenomena, above all those described by thermodynamics on the basis of the fundamental theories of physics, in particular mechanics, together with certain auxiliary assumptions. In another paper in this journal, Foundations of statistical mechanics: Mechanics by itself, I have shown that some of the thermodynamic regularities, including the probabilistic ones, can be described in terms of mechanics by itself. But in order to prove those regularities, in particular the time asymmetric ones, it is necessary to add to mechanics assumptions of three kinds, all of which are under debate in contemporary literature. One kind of assumptions concerns measure and probability, and here, a major debate is around the notion of “typicality.” A second assumption concerns initial conditions, and here, the debate is about the nature and status of the so-called past hypothesis. The third kind of assumptions concerns the dynamics, and here, the possibility and significance of “Maxwell's Demon” is the main topic of discussions. This article describes these assumptions and examines the justification for introducing them, emphasizing the contemporary debates around them.
Keywords Statistical mechanics  thermodynamics  reduction  macrostates  entropy  probability
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DOI 10.1111/phc3.12464
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References found in this work BETA

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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.
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Citations of this work BETA

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.
Infinite Idealizations in Physics.Elay Shech - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (9):e12514.
The Ergodic Hierarchy.Roman Frigg & Joseph Berkovitz - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Information vs. entropy vs. probability.Orly Shenker - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-25.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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Letter to the Editor.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):91-93.
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Measures Over Initial Conditions.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2012 - In Yemima Ben-Menahem & Meir Hemmo (eds.), Probability in Physics. Springer. pp. 87--98.


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