If stem cell-based therapies are developed, we will likely confront a difficult problem of justice: for biological reasons alone, the new therapies might benefit only a limited range of patients. In fact, they might benefit primarily white Americans, thereby exacerbating long-standing differences in health and health care.
An infinite lottery machine is used as a foil for testing the reach of inductive inference, since inferences concerning it require novel extensions of probability. Its use is defensible if there is some sense in which the lottery is physically possible, even if exotic physics is needed. I argue that exotic physics is needed and describe several proposals that fail and at least one that succeeds well enough.
Ever since Copernicus, scientists have continually adjusted their view of human nature, moving it further and further from its ancient position at the center of Creation. But in recent years, a startling new concept has evolved that places it more firmly than ever in a special position. Known as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, this collection of ideas holds that the existence of intelligent observers determines the fundamental structure of the Universe. In its most radical version, the Anthropic Principle asserts that (...) "intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and once it comes into existence, it will never die out." This wide-ranging and detailed book explores the many ramifications of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, covering the whole spectrum of human inquiry from Aristotle to Z bosons. Bringing a unique combination of skills and knowledge to the subject, John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler--two of the world's leading cosmologists--cover the definition and nature of life, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the interpretation of the quantum theory in relation to the existence of observers. The book will be of vital interest to philosophers, theologians, mathematicians, scientists, and historians, as well as to anyone concerned with the connection between the vastness of the universe of stars and galaxies and the existence of life within it on a small planet out in the suburbs of the Milky Way. (shrink)
It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.
Contrary to formal theories of induction, I argue that there are no universal inductive inference schemas. The inductive inferences of science are grounded in matters of fact that hold only in particular domains, so that all inductive inference is local. Some are so localized as to defy familiar characterization. Since inductive inference schemas are underwritten by facts, we can assess and control the inductive risk taken in an induction by investigating the warrant for its underwriting facts. In learning more facts, (...) we extend our inductive reach by supplying more localized inductive inference schemes. Since a material theory no longer separates the factual and schematic parts of an induction, it proves not to be vulnerable to Hume's problem of the justification of induction. (shrink)
"This is a remarkable book: wide-ranging, resonant, and well-written; it is also reflective and personable, warm and engaging." —Philosophy and Literature "With this book Caputo takes his place firmly as the foremost American, continental post-modernist... " —International Philosophical Quarterly "One cannot but be impressed by the scope of Radical Hermeneutics." —Man and World "Caputo’s study is stunning in its scope and scholarship." —Robert E. Lauder, St. John’s University, The Thomist For John D. Caputo, hermeneutics means radical thinking without (...) transcendental justification: attending to the ruptures and irregularities in existence before the metaphysics of presence has a chance to smooth them over. Radical Hermeneutics forges a closer collaboration between hermeneutics and deconstruction than has previously been attempted. (shrink)
Applying an ever more radical hermeneutics, John D. Caputo breaks down the name of God in this irrepressible book. Instead of looking at God as merely a name, Caputo views it as an event, or what the name conjures or promises in the future. For Caputo, the event exposes God as weak, unstable, and barely functional. While this view of God flies in the face of most religions and philosophies, it also puts up a serious challenge to fundamental tenets (...) of theology and ontology. Along the way, Caputo’s readings of the New Testament, especially of Paul’s view of the Kingdom of God, help to support the "weak force" theory. This penetrating work cuts to the core of issues and questions—What is the nature of God? What is the nature of being? What is the relationship between God and being? What is the meaning of forgiveness, faith, piety, or transcendence?—that define the terrain of contemporary philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophical discussion of religion neglects dualistic religions: although Manichaeism from time to time is accorded mention, Zoroastrianism, a more plausible form of religious dualism, is almost entirely ignored. We seek to change this state of affairs. To this end we present the basic tenets of Zoroastrian dualism, argue that objections to the Zoroastrian conception of God are less strong than typically imagined, argue that objections to the Zoroastrian conception of the devil are less strong than typically imagined, and offer (...) some brief concluding thoughts. (shrink)
Newton’s equations of motion tell us that a mass at rest at the apex of a dome with the shape specified here can spontaneously move. It has been suggested that this indeterminism should be discounted since it draws on an incomplete rendering of Newtonian physics, or it is “unphysical,” or it employs illicit idealizations. I analyze and reject each of these reasons. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (...) 15260; e‐mail: [email protected] (shrink)
I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to a loose collection of causal notions that form a folk science of causation. This (...) recovery of causation exploits the same generative power of reduction relations that allows us to recover gravity as a force from Einstein's general relativity and heat as a conserved fluid, the caloric, from modern thermal physics, when each theory is restricted to appropriate domains. Causes are real in science to the same degree as caloric and gravitational forces. (shrink)
The Insistence of God presents the provocative idea that God does not exist, God insists, while God’s existence is a human responsibility, which may or may not happen. For John D. Caputo, God’s existence is haunted by "perhaps," which does not signify indecisiveness but an openness to risk, to the unforeseeable. Perhaps constitutes a theology of what is to come and what we cannot see coming. Responding to current critics of continental philosophy, Caputo explores the materiality of perhaps and (...) the promise of the world. He shows how perhaps can become a new theology of the gaps God opens. (shrink)
In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that the celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved. Attempts to recreate the problem in the material theory of induction fail. They require relations of inductive support to conform to an unsustainable, hierarchical empiricism.
There can be no mistaking the importance of Caputo's work." —Edith Wyschogrod "No one interested in Derrida, in Caputo, or in the larger question of postmodernism and religion can afford to ignore this pathbreaking study.
In books such as The World Within the World and The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, astronomer John Barrow has emerged as a leading writer on our efforts to understand the universe. Timothy Ferris, writing in The Times Literary Supplement of London, described him as "a temperate and accomplished humanist, scientist, and philosopher of science--a man out to make a contribution, not a show." Now Barrow offers the general reader another fascinating look at modern physics, as he explores the quest for (...) a single, unifying theory that will unlock nature's secrets. Theories of Everything is more than a history of science, more than a popular report on recent research and discoveries. Barrow provides a reflective, intelligent commentary on what a true Theory of Everything would be--its ingredients, its limitations, and what it could tell us about the universe. Never before, he writes, have physicists been so confident and so eager in the hunt for this "cosmic Rosetta Stone," as he calls it: "a single all-embracing picture of all the laws of nature from which the inevitability of all things seen must follow with unimpeachable logic." He lays out eight essential ingredients for a Theory of Everything and then explores each in turn, tracing how our knowledge has developed and how scientific discovery relates to our changing philosophy and religious thought in each area. Some of these ingredients are obvious--the laws of nature must be explained, for example, as well as its organizing principles--but others may be surprising, such as broken symmetries and selection biases. A Theory of Everything must account for the fact that the universe is "messy and complicated," he tells us, and for the limitations imposed by the questions we ask and the information we can obtain. The key lies in the remarkable capacity of mathematics to express the fundamental workings of the physical world--a language that the human mind is uniquely equipped to understand and manipulate. Barrow examines what mathematics actually is and describes how it makes the universe intelligible and provides a path to the underlying coherence in nature--which has led, in fact, to arguments that the universe itself is a vast computer. Yet even the most complete theory, even the most comprehensive mathematical explanation, cannot account for the uncomputable varieties of human experience and thought. "No non-poetic account of reality," he writes, "can be complete." In a field where the authorities converse in equations and mathematical notations, John Barrow speaks with the voice of thoughtful and knowledgeable humanist. Written with eloquence and expertise, Theories of Everything establishes a new perspective on humanity's efforts to explain the universe. (shrink)
That past patterns may continue in many different ways has long been identified as a problem for accounts of induction. The novelty of Goodman’s ”new riddle of induction” lies in a meta-argument that purports to show that no account of induction can discriminate between incompatible continuations. That meta-argument depends on the perfect symmetry of the definitions of grue/bleen and green/blue, so that any evidence that favors the ordinary continuation must equally favor the grue-ified continuation. I argue that this very dependence (...) on the perfect symmetry defeats the novelty of the new riddle. The symmetry can be obtained in contrived circumstances, such as when we grue-ify our total science. However, in all such cases, we cannot preclude the possibility that the original and grue-ified descriptions are merely notationally variant descriptions of the same physical facts; or if there are facts that separate them, these facts are ineffable, so that no account of induction should be expected to pick between them. In ordinary circumstances, there are facts that distinguish the regular and grue-ified descriptions. Since accounts of induction can and do call upon these facts, Goodman’s meta-argument cannot provide principled grounds for the failure of all accounts of induction. It assures us only of the failure of accounts of induction, such as unaugmented enumerative induction, that cannot exploit these symmetry breaking facts. (shrink)
The epistemic state of complete ignorance is not a probability distribution. In it, we assign the same, unique, ignorance degree of belief to any contingent outcome and each of its contingent, disjunctive parts. That this is the appropriate way to represent complete ignorance is established by two instruments, each individually strong enough to identify this state. They are the principle of indifference (PI) and the notion that ignorance is invariant under certain redescriptions of the outcome space, here developed into the (...) ‘principle of invariance of ignorance' (PII). Both instruments are so innocuous as almost to be platitudes. Yet the literature in probabilistic epistemology has misdiagnosed them as paradoxical or defective since they generate inconsistencies when conjoined with the assumption that an epistemic state must be a probability distribution. To underscore the need to drop this assumption, I express PII in its most defensible form as relating symmetric descriptions and show that paradoxes still arise if we assume the ignorance state to be a probability distribution. *Received February 2007; revised July 2007. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e-mail: [email protected] (shrink)
iinstein oered the priniple of generl ovrine s the fundmentl physil priniple of his generl theory of reltivityD nd s responsile for extending the priniple of reltivity to elerted motionF his view ws disputed lmost immeditely with the ounterElim tht the priniple ws no reltivity priniple nd ws physilly vuousF he disgreeE ment persists todyF his rtile reviews the development of iinstein9s thought on generl ovrineD its reltion to the foundtions of generl reltivity nd the evolution of the ontinuing dete (...) over his viewpointF.. (shrink)
I give an informal outline of the hole argument which shows that spacetime substantivalism leads to an undesirable indeterminism in a broad class of spacetime theories. This form of the argument depends on the selection of differentiable manifolds within a spacetime theory as representing spacetime. I consider the conditions under which the argument can be extended to address versions of spacetime substantivalism which select these differentiable manifolds plus some further structure to represent spacetime. Finally, I respond to the criticisms of (...) Tim Maudlin and Jeremy Butterfield. (shrink)
"Against Ethics is beautifully written, clever, learned, thought-provoking, and even inspiring." —Theological Studies "Writing in the form of his ideas, Caputo offers the reader a truly exquisite reading experience.... his iconic style mirrors a truly refreshing honesty that draws the reader in to play." —Quarterly Journal of Speech "Against Ethics is, in my judgment, one of the most important works on philosophical ethics that has been written in recent years.... Caputo speaks with a passion and a concern that are rare (...) in academic philosophy. His profound sense of humor deepens the passion of the viewpoints he develops." —Mark C. Taylor "Obligation happens!" declares Caputo in this brilliant and witty postmodern critique of ethics, framed as a contemporary restaging of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. (shrink)
Constructivists, such as Harvey Brown, urge that the geometries of Newtonian and special relativistic spacetimes result from the properties of matter. Whatever this may mean, it commits constructivists to the claim that these spacetime geometries can be inferred from the properties of matter without recourse to spatiotemporal presumptions or with few of them. I argue that the construction project only succeeds if constructivists antecedently presume the essential commitments of a realist conception of spacetime. These commitments can be avoided only by (...) adopting an extreme form of operationalism. (shrink)
Thought experiments are ordinary argumentation disguised in a vivid pictorial or narrative form. This account of their nature will allow me to show that empiricism has nothing to fear from thought experiments. They perform no epistemic magic. In so far as they tell us about the world, thought experiments draw upon what we already know of it, either explicitly or tacitly; they then transform that knowledge by disguised argumentation. They can do nothing more epistemically than can argumentation. I defend my (...) account of thought experiments in Section 3 by urging that the epistemic reach of thought experiments turns out to coincide with that of argumentation and that this coincidence is best explained by the simple view that thought experiments just are arguments. Thought experiments can err—-a fact to be displayed by the thought experiment - anti thought experiment pairs of Section 2. Nonetheless thought experiments can be used reliably and, I urge in Section 4., this is only possible if they are governed by some very generalized logic. I will suggest on evolutionary considerations that their logics are most likely the familiar logics of induction and deduction, recovering the view that thought experiment is argumentation. Finally in Section 5 I defend this argument based epistemology of thought experiments against competing accounts. I suggest that these other accounts can offer a viable epistemology only insofar as they already incorporate the notion that thought experimentation is governed by a logic, possibly of very generalized form. (shrink)
According to the underdetermination thesis, all evidence necessarily underdetermines any scientific theory. Thus it is often argued that our agreement on the content of mature scientific theories must be due to social and other factors. Drawing on a long standing tradition of criticism, I shall argue that the underdetermination thesis is little more than speculation based on an impoverished account of induction. A more careful look at accounts of induction does not support an assured underdetermination or the holism usually associated (...) with it. I also urge that the display of observationally equivalent theories is a self-defeating strategy for supporting the underdetermination thesis. The very fact that observational equivalence can be demonstrated by arguments brief enough to be included in a journal article means that we cannot preclude the possibility that the theories are merely variant formulations of the same theory. (shrink)
Preface: This volume originated in a conference on "The Place of Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy" which was organized by us and held at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, April 18-20, 1986. The idea behind this conference was to encourage philosophers and scientists to talk to each other about the role of thought experiments in their various disciplines. These papers were either written for the conference, or were written after it by commentators and (...) other participants.... We hope that this volume will be of use to other philosophers and scientists who are interested in thought experiments, as well as inspire more work in this area.... (shrink)
John Barrow is increasingly recognized as one of our most elegant and accomplished science writers, a brilliant commentator on cosmology, mathematics, and modern physics. Barrow now tackles the heady topic of impossibility, in perhaps his strongest book yet. Writing with grace and insight, Barrow argues convincingly that there are limits to human discovery, that there are things that are ultimately unknowable, undoable, or unreachable. He first examines the limits on scientific inquiry imposed by the deficiencies of the human mind: (...) our brain evolved to meet the demands of our immediate environment, Barrow notes, and much that lies outside this small circle may also lie outside our understanding. Barrow investigates practical impossibilities, such as those imposed by complexity, uncomputability, or the finiteness of time, space, and resources. Is the universe finite or infinite? Can information be transmitted faster than the speed of light? The book also examines the deeper theoretical restrictions on our ability to know, including Godel's theorem--which proved that there were things that could not be proved--and Arrow's Impossibility theorem about democratic voting systems. Finally, having explored the limits imposed on us from without, Barrow considers whether there are limits we should impose upon ourselves. For instance, if the secrets of the atom are to be found only by recreating extreme environments at great financial cost, just how much should we devote to that quest? Weaving together this intriguing tapestry, he illuminates some of the most profound questions of science, from the possibility of time travel to the very structure of the universe. (shrink)
Thought experiments in science are merely picturesque argumentation. I support this view in various ways, including the claim that it follows from the fact that thought experiments can err but can still be used reliably. The view is defended against alternatives proposed by my cosymposiasts.
In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are warranted by facts that prevail locally. This approach, it is urged, is preferable to formal theories of induction in which the good inductive inferences are delineated as those conforming to some universal schema. An inductive inference problem concerning indeterministic, non-probabilistic systems in physics is posed and it is argued that Bayesians cannot responsibly analyze it, thereby demonstrating that the probability calculus is not the universal logic of induction.
Bayesian probabilistic explication of inductive inference conflates neutrality of supporting evidence for some hypothesis H (“not supporting H”) with disfavoring evidence (“supporting not-H”). This expressive inadequacy leads to spurious results that are artifacts of a poor choice of inductive logic. I illustrate how such artifacts have arisen in simple inductive inferences in cosmology. In the inductive disjunctive fallacy, neutral support for many possibilities is spuriously converted into strong support for their disjunction. The Bayesian “doomsday argument” is shown to rely entirely (...) on a similar artifact, for the result disappears in a reanalysis that employs fragments of inductive logic able to represent evidential neutrality. Finally, the mere supposition of a multiverse is not yet enough to warrant the introduction of probabilities without some factual analog of a randomizer over the multiverses. (shrink)
While there is no universal logic of induction, the probability calculus succeeds as a logic of induction in many contexts through its use of several notions concerning inductive inference. They include Addition, through which low probabilities represent disbelief as opposed to ignorance; and Bayes property, which commits the calculus to a ‘refute and rescale’ dynamics for incorporating new evidence. These notions are independent and it is urged that they be employed selectively according to needs of the problem at hand. It (...) is shown that neither is adapted to inductive inference concerning some indeterministic systems. (shrink)
Landauer’s principle is the loosely formulated notion that the erasure of n bits of information must always incur a cost of k ln n in thermodynamic entropy. It can be formulated as a precise result in statistical mechanics, but for a restricted class of erasure processes that use a thermodynamically irreversible phase space expansion, which is the real origin of the law’s entropy cost and whose necessity has not been demonstrated. General arguments that purport to establish the unconditional validity of (...) the law fail. They turn out to depend on the illicit formation of a canonical ensemble from memory devices holding random data. To exorcise Maxwell’s demon one must show that all candidate devices—the ordinary and the extraordinary—must fail to reverse the second law of thermodynamics. The theorizing surrounding Landauer’s principle is too fragile and too tied to a few specific examples to support such general exorcism. Charles Bennett’s recent extension of Landauer’s principle to the merging of computational paths fails for the same reasons as trouble the original principle. (shrink)
Landauer's Principle asserts that there is an unavoidable cost in thermodynamic entropy creation when data is erased. It is usually derived from incorrect assumptions, most notably, that erasure must compress the phase space of a memory device or that thermodynamic entropy arises from the probabilistic uncertainty of random data. Recent work seeks to prove Landauer’s Principle without using these assumptions. I show that the processes assumed in the proof, and in the thermodynamics of computation more generally, can be combined to (...) produce devices that both violate the second law and erase data without entropy cost, indicating an inconsistency in the theoretical system. Worse, the standard repertoire of processes selectively neglects thermal fluctuations. Concrete proposals for how we might measure dissipationlessly and expand single molecule gases reversibly are shown to be fatally disrupted by fluctuations. Reversible, isothermal processes on molecular scales are shown to be disrupted by fluctuations that can only be overcome by introducing entropy creating, dissipative processes. (shrink)
My purpose in this chapter is to survey some of the principal approaches to inductive inference in the philosophy of science literature. My first concern will be the general principles that underlie the many accounts of induction in this literature. When these accounts are considered in isolation, as is more commonly the case, it is easy to overlook that virtually all accounts depend on one of very few basic principles and that the proliferation of accounts can be understood as efforts (...) to ameliorate the weaknesses of those few principles. In the earlier sections, I will lay out three inductive principles and the families of accounts of induction they engender. In later sections I will review standard problems in the philosophical literature that have supported some pessimism about induction and suggest that their import has been greatly overrated. In the final sections I will return to the proliferation of accounts of induction that frustrates efforts at a final codification. I will suggest that this proliferation appears troublesome only as long as we expect inductive inference to be subsumed under a single formal theory. If we adopt a material theory of induction in which individual inductions are licensed by particular facts that prevail only in local domains, then the proliferation is expected and not problematic. (shrink)
This article begins with some preliminary remarks about the general features and basic varieties of reflective equilibrium in moral reflection. It then considers a couple of preliminary doubts about this method. One of these doubts claims that the most plausible interpretation of RE is so comprehensive that it risks paralyzing our thinking, while the other claims that this same version of RE is insufficiently determinate in practical contexts and will thus fail to be sufficiently action-guiding. The article then explicates the (...) sense in which RE qualifies as a coherence theory of justification, and considers several objections to RE that flow from its reliance on the putative connection between coherence and moral justification. (shrink)
Pushing past the constraints of postmodernism which cast "reason" and"religion" in opposition, God, the Gift, and Postmodernism, seizes the opportunity to question the authority of "the modern" and open the limits of possible experience, including the call to religious experience, as a new millennium approaches. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, engages with Jean-Luc Marion and other religious philosophers to entertain questions about intention, givenness, and possibility which reveal the extent to which deconstruction is structured like religion. New interpretations of (...) Kant, Heidegger, Husserl, and Derrida emerge from essays and discussions with distinguished philosophers and theologians from the United States and Europe. The result is that God, the Gift, and Postmodernism elaborates a radical phenomenology that stretches the limits of its possibility and explores areas where philosophy and religion have become increasingly and surprisingly convergent. Contributors include: John D. Caputo, John Dominic Crossan, Jacques Derrida, Robert Dodaro, Richard Kearney, Jean-Luc Marion, Frangoise Meltzer, Michael J. Scanlon, Mark C. Taylor, David Tracy, Merold Westphal and Edith Wyschogrod. (shrink)
In eternally inflating cosmology, infinitely many pocket universes are seeded. Attempts to show that universes like our observable universe are probable amongst them have failed, since no unique probability measure is recoverable. This lack of definite probabilities is taken to reveal a complete predictive failure. Inductive inference over the pocket universes, it would seem, is impossible. I argue that this conclusion of impossibility mistakes the nature of the problem. It confuses the case in which no inductive inference is possible, with (...) another in which a weaker inductive logic applies. The alternative, applicable inductive logic is determined by background conditions and is the same, non-probabilistic logic as applies to an infinite lottery. This inductive logic does not preclude all predictions, but does affirm that predictions useful to deciding for or against eternal inflation are precluded. (shrink)
Most bioethicists and professional medical societies condemn the practice of ?slow codes.? The American College of Physicians ethics manual states, ?Because it is deceptive, physicians or nurses should not perform half-hearted resuscitation efforts (?slow codes?).? A leading textbook calls slow codes ?dishonest, crass dissimulation, and unethical.? A medical sociologist describes them as ?deplorable, dishonest and inconsistent with established ethical principles.? Nevertheless, we believe that slow codes may be appropriate and ethically defensible in situations in which cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is likely (...) to be ineffective, the family decision makers understand and accept that death is inevitable, and those family members cannot bring themselves to consent or even assent to a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. In such cases, we argue, physicians may best serve both the patient and the family by having a carefully ambiguous discussion about end-of-life options and then providing resuscitation efforts that are less vigorous or prolonged than usual. (shrink)
Mathias Frisch has argued that the requirement that electromagnetic dispersion processes are causal adds empirical content not found in electrodynamic theory. I urge that this attempt to reconstitute a local principle of causality in physics fails. An independent principle is not needed to recover the results of dispersion theory. The use of ‘causality conditions’ proves to be the mere adding of causal labels to an already presumed fact. If instead one seeks a broader, independently formulated grounding for the conditions, that (...) grounding either fails or dissolves into vagueness and ambiguity, as has traditionally been the fate of candidate principles of causality. Introduction Scattering in Classical Electrodynamics Sufficiency of the Physics Failure of the Principle of Causality Proposed 4.1 A sometimes principle 4.2 The conditions of applicability are obscure 4.3 Effects can come before their causes 4.4 Vagueness of the relata and of the notion of causal process Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Standard descriptions of thermodynamically reversible processes attribute contradictory properties to them: they are in equilibrium yet still change their state. Or they are comprised of non-equilibrium states that are so close to equilibrium that the difference does not matter. One cannot have states that both change and no not change at the same time. In place of this internally contradictory characterization, the term “thermodynamically reversible process” is here construed as a label for a set of real processes of change involving (...) only non-equilibrium states. The properties usually attributed to a thermodynamically reversible process are recovered as the limiting properties of this set. No single process, that is, no system undergoing change, equilibrium or otherwise, carries those limiting properties. The paper concludes with an historical survey of characterizations of thermodynamically reversible processes and a critical analysis of their shortcomings. (shrink)
It is common to dismiss the passage of time as illusory since its passage has not been captured within modern physical theories. I argue that this is a mistake. Other than the awkward fact that it does not appear in our physics, there is no indication that the passage of time is an illusion.