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John Earman
University of Pittsburgh
  1.  14
    Bayes or Bust?John Earman - 1992 - Bradford.
    There is currently no viable alternative to the Bayesian analysis of scientific inference, yet the available versions of Bayesianism fail to do justice to several aspects of the testing and confirmation of scientific hypotheses. Bayes or Bust? provides the first balanced treatment of the complex set of issues involved in this nagging conundrum in the philosophy of science. Both Bayesians and anti-Bayesians will find a wealth of new insights on topics ranging from Bayes's original paper to contemporary formal learning theory. (...)
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  2. A Primer on Determinism.John Earman - 1986 - D. Reidel.
    Determinism is a perennial topic of philosophical discussion. Very little acquaintance with the philosophical literature is needed to reveal the Tower of ...
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  3. Bayes or Bust? A Critical Examination of Bayesian Confirmation Theory.John Earman - 1992 - MIT Press.
    There is currently no viable alternative to the Bayesian analysis of scientific inference, yet the available versions of Bayesianism fail to do justice to several aspects of the testing and confirmation of scientific hypotheses. Bayes or Bust? provides the first balanced treatment of the complex set of issues involved in this nagging conundrum in the philosophy of science. Both Bayesians and anti-Bayesians will find a wealth of new insights on topics ranging from Bayes’s original paper to contemporary formal learning theory.In (...)
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  4. What Price Spacetime Substantivalism? The Hole Story.John Earman & John Norton - 1987 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (4):515-525.
    Spacetime substantivalism leads to a radical form of indeterminism within a very broad class of spacetime theories which include our best spacetime theory, general relativity. Extending an argument from Einstein, we show that spacetime substantivalists are committed to very many more distinct physical states than these theories' equations can determine, even with the most extensive boundary conditions.
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  5. The “Past Hypothesis”: Not Even False.John Earman - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (3):399-430.
    It has become something of a dogma in the philosophy of science that modern cosmology has completed Boltzmann's program for explaining the statistical validity of the Second Law of thermodynamics by providing the low entropy initial state needed to ground the asymmetry in entropic behavior that underwrites our inference about the past. This dogma is challenged on several grounds. In particular, it is argued that it is likely that the Boltzmann entropy of the initial state of the universe is an (...)
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  6.  19
    World Enough and Space‐Time: Absolute Versus Relational Theories of Space and Time.Robert Toretti & John Earman - 1989 - Philosophical Review 101 (3):723.
  7. Ceteris Paribus Lost.John Earman, John T. Roberts & Sheldon Smith - 2002 - Erkenntnis 57 (3):281-301.
    Many have claimed that ceteris paribus laws are a quite legitimate feature of scientific theories, some even going so far as to claim that laws of all scientific theories currently on offer are merely CP. We argue here that one of the common props of such a thesis, that there are numerous examples of CP laws in physics, is false. Moreover, besides the absence of genuine examples from physics, we suggest that otherwise unproblematic claims are rendered untestable by the mere (...)
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  8. "Ceteris Paribus", There Is No Problem of Provisos.John Earman & John T. Roberts - 1999 - Synthese 118 (3):439 - 478.
    Much of the literature on "ceteris paribus" laws is based on a misguided egalitarianism about the sciences. For example, it is commonly held that the special sciences are riddled with ceteris paribus laws; from this many commentators conclude that if the special sciences are not to be accorded a second class status, it must be ceteris paribus all the way down to fundamental physics. We argue that the (purported) laws of fundamental physics are not hedged by ceteris paribus clauses and (...)
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  9. Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles.John Earman - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
    This vital study offers a new interpretation of Hume's famous "Of Miracles," which notoriously argues against the possibility of miracles. By situating Hume's popular argument in the context of the 18th century debate on miracles, Earman shows Hume's argument to be largely unoriginal and chiefly without merit where it is original. Yet Earman constructively conceives how progress can be made on the issues that Hume's essay so provocatively posed about the ability of eyewitness testimony to establish the credibility of marvelous (...)
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  10. World Enough and Spacetime.John Earman - 1989 - MIT press.
  11. Underdetermination, Realism, and Reason.John Earman - 1993 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 18 (1):19-38.
  12. Laws, Symmetry, and Symmetry Breaking: Invariance, Conservation Principles, and Objectivity.John Earman - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1227--1241.
    Given its importance in modern physics, philosophers of science have paid surprisingly little attention to the subject of symmetries and invariances, and they have largely neglected the subtopic of symmetry breaking. I illustrate how the topic of laws and symmetries brings into fruitful interaction technical issues in physics and mathematics with both methodological issues in philosophy of science, such as the status of laws of physics, and metaphysical issues, such as the nature of objectivity.
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  13. Thoroughly Modern Mctaggart: Or, What Mctaggart Would Have Said If He Had Read the General Theory of Relativity.John Earman - 2002 - Philosophers' Imprint 2:1-28.
    The philosophical literature on time and change is fixated on the issue of whether the B-series account of change is adequate or whether real change requires Becoming of either the property-based variety of McTaggart's A-series or the non-property-based form embodied in C. D. Broad's idea of the piling up of successive layers of existence. For present purposes it is assumed that the B-series suffices to ground real change. But then it is noted that modern science in the guise of Einstein's (...)
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  14. Curie’s Principle and Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking.John Earman - 2004 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):173 – 198.
    In 1894 Pierre Curie announced what has come to be known as Curie's Principle: the asymmetry of effects must be found in their causes. In the same publication Curie discussed a key feature of what later came to be known as spontaneous symmetry breaking: the phenomena generally do not exhibit the symmetries of the laws that govern them. Philosophers have long been interested in the meaning and status of Curie's Principle. Only comparatively recently have they begun to delve into the (...)
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  15.  21
    The Role of Idealizations in the Aharonov–Bohm Effect.John Earman - 2019 - Synthese 196 (5):1991-2019.
    On standard accounts of scientific theorizing, the role of idealizations is to facilitate the analysis of some real world system by employing a simplified representation of the target system, raising the obvious worry about how reliable knowledge can be obtained from inaccurate descriptions. The idealizations involved in the Aharonov–Bohm effect do not, it is claimed, fit this paradigm; rather the target system is a fictional system characterized by features that, though physically possible, are not realized in the actual world. The (...)
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  16.  8
    The Cement of the Universe.John Earman & J. L. Mackie - 1976 - Philosophical Review 85 (3):390.
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  17. Some Puzzles and Unresolved Issues About Quantum Entanglement.John Earman - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (2):303-337.
    Schrödinger averred that entanglement is the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics. The first part of this paper is simultaneously an exploration of Schrödinger’s claim and an investigation into the distinction between mere entanglement and genuine quantum entanglement. The typical discussion of these matters in the philosophical literature neglects the structure of the algebra of observables, implicitly assuming a tensor product structure of the simple Type I factor algebras used in ordinary Quantum Mechanics . This limitation is overcome by adopting the (...)
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  18. Why Ergodic Theory Does Not Explain the Success of Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics.John Earman & Miklós Rédei - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):63-78.
    We argue that, contrary to some analyses in the philosophy of science literature, ergodic theory falls short in explaining the success of classical equilibrium statistical mechanics. Our claim is based on the observations that dynamical systems for which statistical mechanics works are most likely not ergodic, and that ergodicity is both too strong and too weak a condition for the required explanation: one needs only ergodic-like behaviour for the finite set of observables that matter, but the behaviour must ensure that (...)
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  19. Haag’s Theorem and its Implications for the Foundations of Quantum Field Theory.John Earman & Doreen Fraser - 2006 - Erkenntnis 64 (3):305 - 344.
    Although the philosophical literature on the foundations of quantum field theory recognizes the importance of Haag’s theorem, it does not provide a clear discussion of the meaning of this theorem. The goal of this paper is to make up for this deficit. In particular, it aims to set out the implications of Haag’s theorem for scattering theory, the interaction picture, the use of non-Fock representations in describing interacting fields, and the choice among the plethora of the unitarily inequivalent representations of (...)
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  20. Do the Laws of Physics Forbid the Operation of Time Machines?John Earman, Chris Smeenk & Christian Wüthrich - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):91 - 124.
    We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no- go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time (...)
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  21. An Attempt to Add a Little Direction to "the Problem of the Direction of Time".John Earman - 1974 - Philosophy of Science 41 (1):15-47.
    It is argued that the main problem with "the problem of the direction of time" is to figure out what the problem is or is supposed to be. Towards this end, an attempt is made to disentangle and to classify some of the many issues which have been discussed under the label of 'the direction of time'. Secondly, some technical apparatus is introduced in the hope of producing a sharper formulation of the issues than they have received in the philosophical (...)
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  22. A Critical Look at Inflationary Cosmology.John Earman & Jesus Mosterin - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (1):1-49.
    Inflationary cosmology won a large following on the basis of the claim that it solves various problems that beset the standard big bang model. We argue that these problems concern not the empirical adequacy of the standard model but rather the nature of the explanations it offers. Furthermore, inflationary cosmology has not been able to deliver on its proposed solutions without offering models which are increasingly complicated and contrived, which depart more and more from the standard model it was supposed (...)
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  23. What Time Reversal Invariance is and Why It Matters.John Earman - 2002 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (3):245 – 264.
    David Albert's Time and Chance (2000) provides a fresh and interesting perspective on the problem of the direction of time. Unfortunately, the book opens with a highly non-standard exposition of time reversal invariance that distorts the subsequent discussion. The present article not only has the remedial goal of setting the record straight about the meaning of time reversal invariance, but it also aims to show how the niceties of this symmetry concept matter to the problem of the direction of time (...)
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  24. Exorcist XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell’s Demon. Part I. From Maxwell to Szilard.John Earman & John D. Norton - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29 (4):435-471.
    In this first part of a two-part paper, we describe efforts in the early decades of this century to restrict the extent of violations of the Second Law of thermodynamics that were brought to light by the rise of the kinetic theory and the identification of fluctuation phenomena. We show how these efforts mutated into Szilard’s proposal that Maxwell’s Demon is exorcised by proper attention to the entropy costs associated with the Demon’s memory and information acquisition. In the second part (...)
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  25. Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience About Laws of Nature Part I: Humean Supervenience.John Earman & John T. Roberts - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1):1–22.
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base (...)
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  26.  29
    The Role of Idealizations in the Aharonov–Bohm Effect.John Earman - 2017 - Synthese:1-29.
    On standard accounts of scientific theorizing, the role of idealizations is to facilitate the analysis of some real world system by employing a simplified representation of the target system, raising the obvious worry about how reliable knowledge can be obtained from inaccurate descriptions. The idealizations involved in the Aharonov–Bohm effect do not, it is claimed, fit this paradigm; rather the target system is a fictional system characterized by features that, though physically possible, are not realized in the actual world. The (...)
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  27. Forever is a Day: Supertasks in Pitowsky and Malament-Hogarth Spacetimes.John Earman & John D. Norton - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (1):22-42.
    The standard theory of computation excludes computations whose completion requires an infinite number of steps. Malament-Hogarth spacetimes admit observers whose pasts contain entire future-directed, timelike half-curves of infinite proper length. We investigate the physical properties of these spacetimes and ask whether they and other spacetimes allow the observer to know the outcome of a computation with infinitely many steps.
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  28. Who's Afraid of Absolute Space?John Earman - 1970 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3):287-319.
  29. Gauge Matters.John Earman - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (S3):S209-S220.
    The constrained Hamiltonian formalism is recommended as a means for getting a grip on the concepts of gauge and gauge transformation. This formalism makes it clear how the gauge concept is relevant to understanding Newtonian and classical relativistic theories as well as the theories of elementary particle physics; it provides an explication of the vague notions of "local" and "global" gauge transformations; it explains how and why a fibre bundle structure emerges for theories which do not wear their bundle structure (...)
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  30.  6
    Bangs, Crunches, Whimpers, and Shrieks: Singularities and Acausalities in Relativistic Spacetimes.John Earman - 1995 - Oxford University Press USA.
    Focusing on spacetime singularities, Earman engages with a host of foundational issues at the intersection of science and philosophy, ranging from the big bang to the possibility of time travel.
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  31. Reassessing the Prospects for a Growing Block Model of the Universe.John Earman - 2008 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (2):135 – 164.
    Although C. D. Broad's notion of Becoming has received a fair amount of attention in the philosophy-of-time literature, there are no serious attempts to show how to replace the standard 'block' spacetime models by models that are more congenial to Broad's idea that the sum total of existence is continuously increased by Becoming or the coming into existence of events. In the Newtonian setting Broad-type models can be constructed in a cheating fashion by starting with a Newtonian block model, carving (...)
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  32. Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience About Laws of Nature Part II: The Epistemological Argument for Humean Supervenience.John Earman & John T. Roberts - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):253–286.
    In Part I, we presented and motivated a new formulation of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). Here in Part II, we present an epistemological argument in defense of HS, thus formulated. Our contention is that one can combine a modest realism about laws of nature with a proper recognition of the importance of empirical testability in the epistemology of science only if one accepts HS.
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  33.  35
    Aspects of Determinism in Modern Physics.John Earman - 2007 - In .
  34.  47
    Tracking Down Gauge: An Ode to the Constrained Hamiltonian Formalism.John Earman - 2003 - In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. pp. 140--62.
    Like moths attracted to a bright light, philosophers are drawn to glitz. So in discussing the notions of ‘gauge’, ‘gauge freedom’, and ‘gauge theories’, they have tended to focus on examples such as Yang–Mills theories and on the mathematical apparatus of fibre bundles. But while Yang–Mills theories are crucial to modern elementary particle physics, they are only a special case of a much broader class of gauge theories. And while the fibre bundle apparatus turned out, in retrospect, to be the (...)
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  35.  90
    Laws of Nature: The Empiricist Challenge.John Earman - 1984 - In Radu J. Bogdan (ed.). Springer Verlag. pp. 191-223.
    Hume defined ‘cause’ three times over. The two principal definitions (constant conjunction, felt determination) provide the anchors for the two main strands of the modem empiricist accounts of laws of nature 1 while the third (the counter factual definition 2) may be seen as the inspiration of the nonHumean necessitarian analyses. Corresponding to the felt determination definition is the account of laws that emphasizes human attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Latter day weavers of this strand include Nelson Goodman, A. J. Ayer, (...)
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  36. Two Challenges to the Requirement of Substantive General Covariance.J. Earman - 2006 - Synthese 148 (2):443-468.
    It is generally acknowledged that the requirement that the laws of a spacetime theory be covariant under a general coordinate transformation is a restriction on the form but not the content of the theory. The prevalent view in the physics community holds that the substantive version of general covariance – exhibited, for example, by Einstein’s general theory of relativity – consists in the requirement that diffeomorphism invariance is a gauge symmetry of the theory. This conception of general covariance is explained (...)
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  37.  23
    Do the Laws of Physics Forbid the Operation of Time Machines?John Earman, Christopher Smeenk & Christian Wüthrich - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):91-124.
    We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no- go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time (...)
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  38.  80
    Pre-Socratic Quantum Gravity.Gordon Belot & John Earman - 2001 - In .
    Physicists who work on canonical quantum gravity will sometimes remark that the general covariance of general relativity is responsible for many of the thorniest technical and conceptual problems in their field.1 In particular, it is sometimes alleged that one can trace to this single source a variety of deep puzzles about the nature of time in quantum gravity, deep disagreements surrounding the notion of ‘observable’ in classical and quantum gravity, and deep questions about the nature of the existence of spacetime (...)
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  39. The Meaning and Status of Newton's Law of Inertia and the Nature of Gravitational Forces.J. Earman & M. Friedman - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (3):329-359.
    A four dimensional approach to Newtonian physics is used to distinguish between a number of different structures for Newtonian space-time and a number of different formulations of Newtonian gravitational theory. This in turn makes possible an in-depth study of the meaning and status of Newton's Law of Inertia and a detailed comparison of the Newtonian and Einsteinian versions of the Law of Inertia and the Newtonian and Einsteinian treatments of gravitational forces. Various claims about the status of Newton's Law of (...)
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  40. Pre-Socratic Quantum Gravity.Belot Gordon & Earman John - 2001 - In Craig Callender & Nick Huggett (eds.), Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale. Cambridge University Press. pp. 213--55.
    Physicists who work on canonical quantum gravity will sometimes remark that the general covariance of general relativity is responsible for many of the thorniest technical and conceptual problems in their field.1 In particular, it is sometimes alleged that one can trace to this single source a variety of deep puzzles about the nature of time in quantum gravity, deep disagreements surrounding the notion of ‘observable’ in classical and quantum gravity, and deep questions about the nature of the existence of spacetime (...)
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  41.  38
    Carnap, Kuhn, and the Philosophy of Science Methodology.J. Earman - 1993 - In Paul Horwich (ed.), World Changes. Thomas Kuhn and the Nature of Science. MIT Press. pp. 9--36.
  42.  31
    Quantum Bayesianism Assessed.John Earman - unknown - The Monist 102 (4):403-423.
    The idea that the quantum probabilities are best construed as the personal/subjective degrees of belief of Bayesian agents is an old one. In recent years the idea has been vigorously pursued by a group of physicists who fly the banner of quantum Bayesianism. The present paper aims to identify the prospects and problems of implementing QBism, and it critically assesses the claim that QBism provides a resolution of some of the long-standing foundations issues in quantum mechanics, including the measurement problem (...)
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  43.  47
    From Metaphysics to Physics.Gordon Belot & John Earman - 1999 - In Jeremy Butterfield & Constantine Pagonis (eds.), From Physics to Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 166--86.
    We discuss the relationship between the interpretative problems of quantum gravity and those of general relativity. We argue that classical and quantum theories of gravity resuscitate venerable philosophical questions about the nature of space, time, and change; and that the resolution of some of the difficulties facing physicists working on quantum theories of gravity would appear to require philosophical as well as scientific creativity.
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  44. The Unruh Effect for Philosophers.John Earman - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (2):81-97.
    The importance of the Unruh effect lies in the fact that, together with the related Hawking effect, it serves to link the three main branches of modern physics: thermal/statistical physics, relativity theory/gravitation, and quantum physics. However, different researchers can have in mind different phenomena when they speak of “the Unruh effect” in flat spacetime and its generalization to curved spacetimes. Three different approaches are reviewed here. They are shown to yield results that are sometimes concordant and sometimes discordant. The discordance (...)
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  45. Exorcist XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell’s Demon. Part II. From Szilard to Landauer and Beyond.John Earman & John D. Norton - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 30 (1):1-40.
    In this second part of our two-part paper we review and analyse attempts since 1950 to use information theoretic notions to exorcise Maxwell’s Demon. We argue through a simple dilemma that these attempted exorcisms are ineffective, whether they follow Szilard in seeking a compensating entropy cost in information acquisition or Landauer in seeking that cost in memory erasure. In so far as the Demon is a thermodynamic system already governed by the Second Law, no further supposition about information and entropy (...)
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  46. Essential Self-Adjointness: Implications for Determinism and the Classical–Quantum Correspondence.John Earman - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):27-50.
    It is argued that seemingly “merely technical” issues about the existence and uniqueness of self-adjoint extensions of symmetric operators in quantum mechanics have interesting implications for foundations problems in classical and quantum physics. For example, pursuing these technical issues reveals a sense in which quantum mechanics can cure some of the forms of indeterminism that crop up in classical mechanics; and at the same time it reveals the possibility of a form of indeterminism in quantum mechanics that is quite distinct (...)
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  47.  63
    Foundations of Space-Time Theories: Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science.John Earman, Clark N. Glymour & John J. Stachel (eds.) - 1974 - University of Minnesota Press.
    Some Philosophical Prehistory of General Relativity As history, my remarks will form rather a medley. If they can claim any sort of unity (apart from a ...
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  48.  30
    Infinite Pains: The Trouble with Supertasks.John Earman & John Norton - 1996 - In Adam Morton & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), Benacerraf and His Critics. Blackwell. pp. 11--271.
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  49.  45
    Einstein and Hilbert: Two Months in the History of General Relativity.John Earman & Clark Glymour - unknown
  50.  77
    The Hawking Information Loss Paradox: The Anatomy of a Controversy.Gordon Belot, John Earman & Laura Ruetsche - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (2):189-229.
    Stephen Hawking has argued that universes containing evaporating black holes can evolve from pure initial states to mixed final ones. Such evolution is non-unitary and so contravenes fundamental quantum principles on which Hawking's analysis was based. It disables the retrodiction of the universe's initial state from its final one, and portends the time-asymmetry of quantum gravity. Small wonder that Hawking's paradox has met with considerable resistance. Here we use a simple result for C*-algebras to offer an argument for pure-to-mixed state (...)
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