13 found
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  1.  69
    Asymmetry, Abstraction, and Autonomy: Justifying Coarse-Graining in Statistical Mechanics.Katie Robertson - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):547-579.
    While the fundamental laws of physics are time-reversal invariant, most macroscopic processes are irreversible. Given that the fundamental laws are taken to underpin all other processes, how can the fundamental time-symmetry be reconciled with the asymmetry manifest elsewhere? In statistical mechanics, progress can be made with this question. What I dub the ‘Zwanzig–Zeh–Wallace framework’ can be used to construct the irreversible equations of SM from the underlying microdynamics. Yet this framework uses coarse-graining, a procedure that has faced much criticism. I (...)
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  2.  41
    In Search of the Holy Grail: How to Reduce the Second Law of Thermodynamics.Katie Robertson - 2022 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (4):987-1020.
    The search for the statistical mechanical underpinning of thermodynamic irreversibility has so far focussed on the spontaneous approach to equilibrium. But this is the search for the underpinning of what Brown and Uffink have dubbed the ‘minus first law’ of thermodynamics. In contrast, the second law tells us that certain interventions on equilibrium states render the initial state ‘irrecoverable’. In this article, I discuss the unusual nature of processes in thermodynamics, and the type of irreversibility that the second law embodies. (...)
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  3. Emerging into the Rainforest: Emergence and Special Science Ontology.Alexander Franklin & Katie Robertson - manuscript
    Many philosophers of science are ontologically committed to a lush rainforest of special science entities ), but are often reticent about the criteria that determine which entities count as real. On the other hand, the metaphysics literature is much more forthcoming about such criteria, but often links ontological commitment to irreducibility. We argue that the irreducibility criteria are in tension with scientific realism: for example, they would exclude viruses, which are plausibly theoretically reducible and yet play a sufficiently important role (...)
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  4.  36
    Theoretical Relicts: Progress, Reduction, and Autonomy.Katie Robertson & Alastair Wilson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    When once-successful physical theories are abandoned, common wisdom has it that their characteristic theoretical entities are abandoned with them: examples include phlogiston, light rays, Newtonian forces, Euclidean space. But sometimes a theory sees ongoing use, despite being superseded. What should scientific realists say about the characteristic entities of the theories in such cases? The standard answer is that these ‘theoretical relicts’ are merely useful fictions. In this paper we offer a different answer. We start by distinguishing horizontal reduction (in which (...)
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  5.  27
    Autonomy generalised; or, Why doesn’t physics matter more?Katie Robertson - forthcoming - Ergo.
    In what sense are the special sciences autonomous of fundamental physics? Autonomy is an enduring theme in discussions of the relationship between the special sciences and fundamental physics or, more generally, between higher and lower-level facts. Discussion of ‘autonomy’ often fails to recognise that autonomy admits of degrees; consequently, autonomy is either taken to require full independence, or risk relegation to mere apparent autonomy. In addition, the definition of autonomy used by Fodor, the most famous proponent of the autonomy of (...)
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  6.  19
    Going Round in Circles: Landauer vs. Norton on the Thermodynamics of Computation.James Ladyman & Katie Robertson - 2014 - Entropy 16.
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  7.  97
    Landauer defended: Reply to Norton.James A. C. Ladyman & Katie Robertson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):263-271.
    Ladyman, Presnell, and Short proposed a model of the implementation of logical operations by physical processes in order to clarify the exact statement of Landauer's Principle, and then offered a new proof of the latter based on the construction of a thermodynamic cycle, arguing that if Landauer's Principle were false it would be possible to harness a machine that violated it to produce a violation of the second law of thermodynamics. In a recent paper in this journal, John Norton directly (...)
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  8.  58
    Stars and steam engines: To what extent do thermodynamics and statistical mechanics apply to self-gravitating systems?Katie Robertson - 2019 - Synthese 196 (5):1783-1808.
    Foundational puzzles surround gravitational thermal physics—a realm in which stars are treated as akin to molecules in a gas. Whether such an enterprise is successful and the domain of thermal physics extends beyond our terrestrial sphere is disputed. There are successes and paradoxical features. Callender :960–981, 2011) advocates reconciling the two sides of the dispute by taking a broader view of thermodynamics. Here I argue for an alternative position: if we are careful in distinguishing statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, then no (...)
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  9.  24
    Can the two-time interpretation of quantum mechanics solve the measurement problem?Katie Robertson - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 58:54-62.
    Over many years, Aharonov and co-authors have proposed a new interpretation of quantum mechanics: the two-time interpretation. This interpretation assigns two wavefunctions to a system, one of which propagates forwards in time and the other backwards. In this paper, I argue that this interpretation does not solve the measurement problem. In addition, I argue that it is neither necessary nor sufficient to attribute causal power to the backwards-evolving wavefunction ⟨Φ| and thus its existence should be denied, contra the two-time interpretation. (...)
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  10.  21
    Is thermodynamics subjective?Katie Robertson & Carina Prunkl - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-16.
    Thermodynamics is an unusual theory. Prominent figures, including J.C. Maxwell and E.T. Jaynes, have suggested that thermodynamics is anthropocentric. Additionally, contemporary approaches to quantum thermodynamics label thermodynamics a ‘subjective theory’. Here, we evaluate some of the strongest arguments for anthropocentrism based on the heat/work distinction, the second law, and the nature of entropy. We show that these arguments do not commit us to an anthropocentric view but instead point towards a resource-relative understanding of thermodynamics which can be shorn of the (...)
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  11.  10
    Book Forum.Alexander Franklin & Katie Robertson - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A.
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  12. Levels of Explanation.Alastair Wilson & Katie Robertson (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
     
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  13. A Middle Way: A Non-Fundamental Approach to Many-Body Physics by Robert Batterman: Autonomy and Varieties of Reduction. [REVIEW]Alexander Franklin & Katie Robertson - 2022 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 97:1223-125.
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