The notion of common cause closedness of a classical, Kolmogorovian probability space with respect to a causal independence relation between the random events is defined, and propositions are presented that characterize common cause closedness for specific probability spaces. It is proved in particular that no probability space with a finite number of random events can contain common causes of all the correlations it predicts; however, it is demonstrated that probability spaces even with a finite number of random events can be (...) common cause closed with respect to a causal independence relation that is stronger than logical independence. Furthermore it is shown that infinite, atomless probability spaces are always common cause closed in the strongest possible sense. Open problems concerning common cause closedness are formulated and the results are interpreted from the perspective of Reichenbach's Common Cause Principle. (shrink)
This paper is a further consideration of Hemmo and Shenker’s ideas about the proper conceptual characterization of macrostates in statistical mechanics. We provide two formulations of how macrostates come about as elements of certain partitions of the system’s phase space imposed on by the interaction between the system and an observer, and we show that these two formulations are mathematically equivalent. We also reflect on conceptual issues regarding the relationship of macrostates to distinguishability, thermodynamic regularity, observer dependence, and the general (...) phenomenon of measurement. (shrink)
Hawthorne, Landes, Wallmann and Williamson argue that the Principal Principle implies a version of the Principle of Indifference. We show that what the Authors take to be the Principle of Indifference can be obtained without invoking anything which would seem to be related to the Principal Principle. In the Appendix we also discuss several Conditions proposed in the same paper.
We investigate Maxwell's attempt to justify the mathematical assumptions behind his 1860 Proposition IV according to which the velocity components of colliding particles follow the normal distribution. Contrary to the commonly held view we find that his molecular collision model plays a crucial role in reaching this conclusion, and that his model assumptions also permit inference to equalization of mean kinetic energies, which is what he intended to prove in his discredited and widely ignored Proposition VI. If we take a (...) charitable reading of his own proof of Proposition VI then it was Maxwell, and not Boltzmann, who gave the first proof of a tendency towards equilibrium, a sort of H-theorem. We also call attention to a potential conflation of notions of probabilistic and value independence in relevant prior works of his contemporaries and of his own, and argue that this conflation might have impacted his adoption of the suspect independence assumption of Proposition IV. (shrink)
Our approach aims at accounting for causal claims in terms of how the physical states of the underlying dynamical system evolve with time. Causal claims assert connections between two sets of physicals states—their truth depends on whether the two sets in question are genuinely connected by time evolution such that physical states from one set evolve with time into the states of the other set. We demonstrate the virtues of our approach by showing how it is able to account for (...) typical causes, causally relevant factors, being ‘the’ cause, and cases of overdetermination and causation by absences. (shrink)
Jeffrey conditioning is said to provide a more general method of assimilating uncertain evidence than Bayesian conditioning. We show that Jeffrey learning is merely a particular type of Bayesian learning if we accept either of the following two observations: – Learning comprises both probability kinematics and proposition kinematics. – What can be updated is not the same as what can do the updating; the set of the latter is richer than the set of the former. We address the problem of (...) commutativity and isolate commutativity from invariance upon conditioning on conjunctions. We also present a disjunctive model of Bayesian learning which suggests that Jeffrey conditioning is better understood as providing a method for incorporating unspecified but certain evidence rather than providing a method for incorporating specific but uncertain evidence. The results also generalize over many other subjective probability update rules, such as those proposed by Field and Gallow. (shrink)
We call attention to different formulations of how physical laws relate to what is physically possible in the philosophical literature, and argue that it may be the case that determinism fails under one formulation but reigns under the other. Whether this is so depends on our view on the nature of laws, and may also depend on the inter-theoretical relationships among our best physical theories, or so shall we argue.
We argue that the truth of determinism is not an interpretation-free fact and we systematically overview relevant interpretational choices that are less known in the philosophical literature. After bypassing the well known interpretational problem that arises in quantum mechanics we identify three further questions about the representational role of the mathematical structures employed by physical theories. Finally we point out that even if we settle all representational issues the received view of physical possibility may also allow the truth of determinism (...) to depend on prior philosophical convictions, notably on one's philosophical account of the nature of laws. (shrink)