Philosophy of Science 71 (4):489-504 (2004)

Eric Winsberg
University of South Florida
In his recent book, Time and Chance, David Albert claims that by positing that there is a uniform probability distribution defined, on the standard measure, over the space of microscopic states that are compatible with both the current macrocondition of the world, and with what he calls the “past hypothesis”, we can explain the time asymmetry of all of the thermodynamic behavior in the world. The principal purpose of this paper is to dispute this claim. I argue that Albert's proposal fails in his stated goal—to show how to use the time‐reversible dynamics of Newtonian physics to “underwrite the actual content of our thermodynamic experience” (Albert 2000, 159). Albert's proposal can satisfactorily explain why the overall entropy of the universe as a whole is increasing, but it does not and cannot explain the increasing entropy of relatively small, relatively short‐lived systems in energetic isolation without making use of a principle that leads to reversibility objections.
Keywords Temporal Asymmetry   Thermodynamics
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DOI 10.1086/423749
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References found in this work BETA

Time and Chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Harvard University Press.
Time and Chance.S. French - 2005 - Mind 114 (453):113-116.
The Physics of Time Asymmetry.Paul Davies - 1974 - University of California Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

The “Past Hypothesis”: Not Even False.John Earman - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (3):399-430.
The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
Entropy - A Guide for the Perplexed.Roman Frigg & Charlotte Werndl - 2011 - In Claus Beisbart & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Probabilities in Physics. Oxford University Press. pp. 115-142.
Time in Thermodynamics.Jill North - 2011 - In Criag Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time. Oxford University Press. pp. 312--350.

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The Past Hypothesis Meets Gravity.Craig Callender - 2010 - In Andreas Hüttemann & Gerhard Ernst (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 34-58.
Thermodynamic Asymmetry in Time.Craig Callender - 2006 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Semantic Externalism and Presentism.Yuval Dolev - 2008 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (4):533 – 557.


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