Results for 'Statistical mechanics'

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  1.  49
    Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics Brussels–Austin Style.Robert C. Bishop - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (1):1-30.
    The fundamental problem on which Ilya Prigogine and the Brussels–Austin Group have focused can be stated briefly as follows. Our observations indicate that there is an arrow of time in our experience of the world (e.g., decay of unstable radioactive atoms like uranium, or the mixing of cream in coffee). Most of the fundamental equations of physics are time reversible, however, presenting an apparent conflict between our theoretical descriptions and experimental observations. Many have thought that the observed arrow of time (...)
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  2.  35
    Foundation of Statistical Mechanics: Mechanics by Itself.Orly Shenker - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (12):e12465.
    Statistical mechanics is a strange theory. Its aims are debated, its methods are contested, its main claims have never been fully proven, and their very truth is challenged, yet at the same time, it enjoys huge empirical success and gives us the feeling that we understand important phenomena. What is this weird theory, exactly? Statistical mechanics is the name of the ongoing attempt to apply mechanics, together with some auxiliary hypotheses, to explain and predict certain (...)
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  3. Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics: A Maxwellian View.Wayne C. Myrvold - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):237-243.
    One finds, in Maxwell's writings on thermodynamics and statistical physics, a conception of the nature of these subjects that differs in interesting ways from the way that they are usually conceived. In particular, though—in agreement with the currently accepted view—Maxwell maintains that the second law of thermodynamics, as originally conceived, cannot be strictly true, the replacement he proposes is different from the version accepted by most physicists today. The modification of the second law accepted by most physicists is a (...)
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  4.  24
    Foundation of Statistical Mechanics: The Auxiliary Hypotheses.Orly Shenker - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (12):e12464.
    Statistical mechanics is the name of the ongoing attempt to explain and predict certain phenomena, above all those described by thermodynamics on the basis of the fundamental theories of physics, in particular mechanics, together with certain auxiliary assumptions. In another paper in this journal, Foundations of statistical mechanics: Mechanics by itself, I have shown that some of the thermodynamic regularities, including the probabilistic ones, can be described in terms of mechanics by itself. But (...)
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  5. Statistical Mechanics and the Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence.Adam Elga - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):313-324.
    In "Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow", David Lewis defends an analysis of counterfactuals intended to yield the asymmetry of counterfactual dependence: that later affairs depend counterfactually on earlier ones, and not the other way around. I argue that careful attention to the dynamical properties of thermodynamically irreversible processes shows that in many ordinary cases, Lewis's analysis fails to yield this asymmetry. Furthermore, the analysis fails in an instructive way: it teaches us something about the connection between the asymmetry of overdetermination (...)
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  6. Probabilities in Statistical Mechanics.Wayne C. Myrvold - 2016 - In Christopher Hitchcock & Alan H’Ajek (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 573-600.
    This chapter will review selected aspects of the terrain of discussions about probabilities in statistical mechanics (with no pretensions to exhaustiveness, though the major issues will be touched upon), and will argue for a number of claims. None of the claims to be defended is entirely original, but all deserve emphasis. The first, and least controversial, is that probabilistic notions are needed to make sense of statistical mechanics. The reason for this is the same reason that (...)
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  7. An Alternative Interpretation of Statistical Mechanics.C. D. McCoy - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (1):1-21.
    In this paper I propose an interpretation of classical statistical mechanics that centers on taking seriously the idea that probability measures represent complete states of statistical mechanical systems. I show how this leads naturally to the idea that the stochasticity of statistical mechanics is associated directly with the observables of the theory rather than with the microstates (as traditional accounts would have it). The usual assumption that microstates are representationally significant in the theory is therefore (...)
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  8.  66
    Physics and Chance: Philosophical Issues in the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics.Lawrence Sklar - 1993 - Cambridge University Press.
    Statistical mechanics is one of the crucial fundamental theories of physics, and in his new book Lawrence Sklar, one of the pre-eminent philosophers of physics, offers a comprehensive, non-technical introduction to that theory and to attempts to understand its foundational elements. Among the topics treated in detail are: probability and statistical explanation, the basic issues in both equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, the role of cosmology, the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, and (...)
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  9.  43
    What Statistical Mechanics Actually Does.David Wallace - unknown
    I give a brief account of the way in which thermodynamics and statistical mechanics actually work as contemporary scientific theories, and in particular of what statistical mechanics contributes to thermodynamics over and above any supposed underpinning of the latter's general principles. In doing so, I attempt to illustrate that statistical mechanics should not be thought of wholly or even primarily as itself a foundational project for thermodynamics, and that conceiving of it this way potentially (...)
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  10. Boltzmann's Approach to Statistical Mechanics.Sheldon Goldstein - unknown
    In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Ludwig Boltzmann explained how irreversible macroscopic laws, in particular the second law of thermodynamics, originate in the time-reversible laws of microscopic physics. Boltzmann’s analysis, the essence of which I shall review here, is basically correct. The most famous criticisms of Boltzmann’s later work on the subject have little merit. Most twentieth century innovations – such as the identification of the state of a physical system with a probability distribution on its phase space, (...)
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  11.  7
    Statistical Mechanics: A Tale of Two Theories.Roman Frigg & Charlotte Werndl - 2019 - The Monist 102 (4):424-438.
    There are two theoretical approaches in statistical mechanics, one associated with Boltzmann and the other with Gibbs. The theoretical apparatus of the two approaches offer distinct descriptions of the same physical system with no obvious way to translate the concepts of one formalism into those of the other. This raises the question of the status of one approach vis-à-vis the other. We answer this question by arguing that the Boltzmannian approach is a fundamental theory while Gibbsian statistical (...)
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  12.  77
    Reconceptualising Equilibrium in Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics and Characterising its Existence.Charlotte Werndl & Roman Frigg - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 49:19-31.
    In Boltzmannian statistical mechanics macro-states supervene on micro-states. This leads to a partitioning of the state space of a system into regions of macroscopically indistinguishable micro-states. The largest of these regions is singled out as the equilibrium region of the system. What justifies this association? We review currently available answers to this question and find them wanting both for conceptual and for technical reasons. We propose a new conception of equilibrium and prove a mathematical theorem which establishes in (...)
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  13. Laws, Chances, and Statistical Mechanics.Eric Winsberg - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4):872.
    Statistical Mechanics (SM) involves probabilities. At the same time, most approaches to the foundations of SM—programs whose goal is to understand the macroscopic laws of thermal physics from the point of view of microphysics—are classical; they begin with the assumption that the underlying dynamical laws that govern the microscopic furniture of the world are (or can without loss of generality be treated as) deterministic. This raises some potential puzzles about the proper interpretation of these probabilities. It also raises, (...)
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  14.  49
    Colloquium: Statistical Mechanics of Money, Wealth, and Income.Victor M. Yakovenko & J. Barkley Rosser - unknown
    The paper reviews statistical models for money, wealth, and income distributions developed in the econophysics literature since the late 1990s. By analogy with the Boltzmann-Gibbs distribution of energy in physics, it is shown that the probability distribution of money is exponential for certain classes of models with interacting economic agents. Alternative scenarios are also reviewed. Data analysis of the empirical distributions of wealth and income reveals a two-class distribution. The majority of the population belongs to the lower class, characterized (...)
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  15. Reducing Thermodynamics to Statistical Mechanics: The Case of Entropy.Craig Callender - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (7):348-373.
  16. Probability in Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics.Roman Frigg - 2010 - In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press.
    In two recent papers Barry Loewer (2001, 2004) has suggested to interpret probabilities in statistical mechanics as Humean chances in David Lewis’ (1994) sense. I first give a precise formulation of this proposal, then raise two fundamental objections, and finally conclude that these can be overcome only at the price of interpreting these probabilities epistemically.
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  17.  27
    The Quantitative Content of Statistical Mechanics.David Wallace - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):285-293.
  18. Laws and Statistical Mechanics.Eric Winsberg - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):707-718.
    This paper explores some connections between competing conceptions of scientific laws on the one hand, and a problem in the foundations of statistical mechanics on the other. I examine two proposals for understanding the time asymmetry of thermodynamic phenomenal: David Albert's recent proposal and a proposal that I outline based on Hans Reichenbach's “branch systems”. I sketch an argument against the former, and mount a defense of the latter by showing how to accommodate statistical mechanics to (...)
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  19. Chance in Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics.Roman Frigg - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):670-681.
    Consider a gas that is adiabatically isolated from its environment and confined to the left half of a container. Then remove the wall separating the two parts. The gas will immediately start spreading and soon be evenly distributed over the entire available space. The gas has approached equilibrium. Thermodynamics (TD) characterizes this process in terms of an increase of thermodynamic entropy, which attains its maximum value at equilibrium. The second law of thermodynamics captures the irreversibility of this process by positing (...)
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  20. Why Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics Works: Universality and the Renormalization Group.Robert W. Batterman - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (2):183-208.
    Discussions of the foundations of Classical Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics (SM) typically focus on the problem of justifying the use of a certain probability measure (the microcanonical measure) to compute average values of certain functions. One would like to be able to explain why the equilibrium behavior of a wide variety of distinct systems (different sorts of molecules interacting with different potentials) can be described by the same averaging procedure. A standard approach is to appeal to ergodic theory to (...)
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  21.  7
    The Principles of Statistical Mechanics.Richard C. Tolman - 1939 - Philosophy of Science 6 (3):381-381.
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  22.  30
    Interventionism in Statistical Mechanics: Some Philosophical Remarks.Orly R. Shenker - unknown
    Interventionism is an approach to the foundations of statistical mechanics which says that to explain and predict some of the thermodynamic phenomena we need to take into account the inescapable effect of environmental perturbations on the system of interest, in addition to the system's internal dynamics. The literature on interventionism suffers from a curious dual attitude: the approach is often mentioned as a possible framework for understanding statistical mechanics, only to be quickly and decidedly dismissed. The (...)
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  23. The Best Humean System for Statistical Mechanics.Roman Frigg & Carl Hoefer - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):551-574.
    Classical statistical mechanics posits probabilities for various events to occur, and these probabilities seem to be objective chances. This does not seem to sit well with the fact that the theory’s time evolution is deterministic. We argue that the tension between the two is only apparent. We present a theory of Humean objective chance and show that chances thus understood are compatible with underlying determinism and provide an interpretation of the probabilities we find in Boltzmannian statistical (...). (shrink)
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  24.  23
    Colloquium: Statistical Mechanics of Money, Wealth, and Income.J. Barkley Rosser - unknown
    The paper reviews statistical models for money, wealth, and income distributions developed in the econophysics literature since the late 1990s. By analogy with the Boltzmann-Gibbs distribution of energy in physics, it is shown that the probability distribution of money is exponential for certain classes of models with interacting economic agents. Alternative scenarios are also reviewed. Data analysis of the empirical distributions of wealth and income reveals a two-class distribution. The majority of the population belongs to the lower class, characterized (...)
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  25.  70
    Interpretive Analogies Between Quantum and Statistical Mechanics.C. D. McCoy - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):9.
    The conspicuous similarities between interpretive strategies in classical statistical mechanics and in quantum mechanics may be grounded on their employment of common implementations of probability. The objective probabilities which represent the underlying stochasticity of these theories can be naturally associated with three of their common formal features: initial conditions, dynamics, and observables. Various well-known interpretations of the two theories line up with particular choices among these three ways of implementing probability. This perspective has significant application to debates (...)
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  26.  49
    Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics and the Complexity of Reductions.Lawrence Sklar - 1974 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1974:15 - 32.
  27. Laws and Chances in Statistical Mechanics.Eric Winsberg - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4):872-888.
  28. Statistical Mechanics and the Ontological Interpretation.D. Bohm & B. J. Hiley - 1996 - Foundations of Physics 26 (6):823-846.
    To complete our ontological interpretation of quantum theory we have to conclude a treatment of quantum statistical mechanics. The basic concepts in the ontological approach are the particle and the wave function. The density matrix cannot play a fundamental role here. Therefore quantum statistical mechanics will require a further statistical distribution over wave functions in addition to the distribution of particles that have a specified wave function. Ultimately the wave function of the universe will he (...)
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  29. Probabilities in Statistical Mechanics: What Are They?Wayne C. Myrvold - 2012
    This paper addresses the question of how we should regard the probability distributions introduced into statistical mechanics. It will be argued that it is problematic to take them either as purely ontic, or purely epistemic. I will propose a third alternative: they are almost objective probabilities, or epistemic chances. The definition of such probabilities involves an interweaving of epistemic and physical considerations, and thus they cannot be classified as either purely epistemic or purely ontic. This conception, it will (...)
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  30. Foundations of Statistical Mechanics—Two Approaches.Stephen Leeds - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (1):126-144.
    This paper is a discussion of David Albert's approach to the foundations of classical statistical menchanics. I point out a respect in which his account makes a stronger claim about the statistical mechanical probabilities than is usually made, and I suggest what might be motivation for this. I outline a less radical approach, which I attribute to Boltzmann, and I give some reasons for thinking that this approach is all we need, and also the most we are likely (...)
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  31.  21
    The Necessity of Gibbsian Statistical Mechanics.David Wallace - unknown
    In discussions of the foundations of statistical mechanics, it is widely held that the Gibbsian and Boltzmannian approaches are incompatible but empirically equivalent; the Gibbsian approach may be calculationally preferable but only the Boltzmannian approach is conceptually satisfactory. I argue against both assumptions. Gibbsian statistical mechanics is applicable to a wide variety of problems and systems, such as the calculation of transport coefficients and the statistical mechanics and thermodynamics of mesoscopic systems, in which the (...)
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  32. Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics.Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.) - 2010 - Cambridge University Press.
    Statistical mechanics attempts to explain the behaviour of macroscopic physical systems in terms of the mechanical properties of their constituents. Although it is one of the fundamental theories of physics, it has received little attention from philosophers of science. Nevertheless, it raises philosophical questions of fundamental importance on the nature of time, chance and reduction. Most philosophical issues in this domain relate to the question of the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics. This book addresses issues (...)
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  33. What is Statistical Mechanics?Roman Frigg - unknown
    Let us begin with a characteristic example. Consider a gas that is confined to the left half of a box. Now we remove the barrier separating the two halves of the box. As a result, the gas quickly disperses, and it continues to do so until it homogeneously fills the entire box. This is illustrated in Figure 1.
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  34. Epsilon-Ergodicity and the Success of Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics.Peter B. M. Vranas - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (4):688-708.
    Why does classical equilibrium statistical mechanics work? Malament and Zabell (1980) noticed that, for ergodic dynamical systems, the unique absolutely continuous invariant probability measure is the microcanonical. Earman and Rédei (1996) replied that systems of interest are very probably not ergodic, so that absolutely continuous invariant probability measures very distant from the microcanonical exist. In response I define the generalized properties of epsilon-ergodicity and epsilon-continuity, I review computational evidence indicating that systems of interest are epsilon-ergodic, I adapt Malament (...)
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  35. Philosophy of Statistical Mechanics.Lawrence Sklar - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  36.  37
    Statistical Mechanics and the Philosophy of Science: Some Historical Notes.Stephen G. Brush - 1976 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1976:551 - 584.
  37.  7
    The Utility of Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics, Specifically Transport Theory, for Modeling Cohort Data.Rajeev Rajaram & Brian Castellani - 2015 - Complexity 20 (4):45-57.
  38.  15
    Laws and Chances in Statistical Mechanics.Eric Winsberg - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4):872-888.
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  39. Discussion: The Foundations of Statistical Mechanics—Questions and Answers.Amit Hagar - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (3):468-478.
    Huw Price (1996, 2002, 2003) argues that causal-dynamical theories that aim to explain thermodynamic asymmetry in time are misguided. He points out that in seeking a dynamical factor responsible for the general tendency of entropy to increase, these approaches fail to appreciate the true nature of the problem in the foundations of statistical mechanics (SM). I argue that it is Price who is guilty of misapprehension of the issue at stake. When properly understood, causal-dynamical approaches in the foundations (...)
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  40.  30
    The Case for Black Hole Thermodynamics, Part II: Statistical Mechanics.David Wallace - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 66:103-117.
    I present in detail the case for regarding black hole thermodynamics as having a statistical-mechanical explanation in exact parallel with the statistical-mechanical explanation believed to underly the thermodynamics of other systems. I focus on three lines of argument: zero-loop and one-loop calculations in quantum general relativity understood as a quantum field theory, using the path-integral formalism; calculations in string theory of the leading-order terms, higher-derivative corrections, and quantum corrections, in the black hole entropy formula for extremal and near-extremal (...)
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  41. Statistical Mechanics Analysis of the “Twins Paradox”.Uri Ben-Ya'acov - 1995 - Foundations of Physics 25 (12):1733-1740.
    The aging of the two brothers in the “twins paradox” is analyzed through the space-time evolution of the densities that correspond to their internal complex structure. Taking into account their relative motion, it is shown that the traveling brother evolves over a shorter interval of time than his twin, which makes him younger than his brother.
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  42. 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 (...)
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  43.  21
    Explaining Statistical Mechanics.J. P. Dougherty - 1993 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 24 (5):843-866.
  44.  75
    Irreversibility and Statistical Mechanics: A New Approach?Robert W. Batterman - 1990 - Philosophy of Science 57 (3):395-419.
    I discuss a broad critique of the classical approach to the foundations of statistical mechanics (SM) offered by N. S. Krylov. He claims that the classical approach is in principle incapable of providing the foundations for interpreting the "laws" of statistical physics. Most intriguing are his arguments against adopting a de facto attitude towards the problem of irreversibility. I argue that the best way to understand his critique is as setting the stage for a positive theory which (...)
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  45.  45
    The Role of Statistical Mechanics in Classical Physics.David Lavis - 1977 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 28 (3):255-279.
  46. Information-Theoretic Statistical Mechanics Without Landauer’s Principle.Daniel Parker - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):831-856.
    This article distinguishes two different senses of information-theoretic approaches to statistical mechanics that are often conflated in the literature: those relating to the thermodynamic cost of computational processes and those that offer an interpretation of statistical mechanics where the probabilities are treated as epistemic. This distinction is then investigated through Earman and Norton’s ([1999]) ‘sound’ and ‘profound’ dilemma for information-theoretic exorcisms of Maxwell’s demon. It is argued that Earman and Norton fail to countenance a ‘sound’ information-theoretic (...)
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  47.  25
    Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics of Swarms of Driven Particles.Werner Ebeling & Udo Erdmann - 2003 - Complexity 8 (4):23-30.
  48. Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature.Valia Allori (ed.) - forthcoming - World Scientific.
    The book explores several open questions in the philosophy of statistical mechanics. Each chapter is written by a leading expert in the field. Here is a list of some questions that are addressed in the book: 1) Boltzmann showed how the phenomenological gas laws of thermodynamics can be derived from statistical mechanics. Since classical mechanics is a deterministic theory there are no probabilities in it. Since statistical mechanics is based on classical mechanics, (...)
     
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  49.  19
    Physics and Chance: Philosophical Issues in the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics.Robert Batterman & Lawrence Sklar - 1995 - Philosophical Review 104 (4):624.
    Philosophers of physics are very familiar with foundational problems in quantum mechanics and in the theory of relativity. In both fields, the puzzles, if not solved, are at least reasonably well formulated and possess well-characterized solution strategies. Sklar’s book Physics and Chance focuses on a pair of theories, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, for which puzzles and foundational paradoxes abound, but where there is very little agreement upon the means with which they may best be approached. As he (...)
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  50. A Field Guide to Recent Work on the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics.Roman Frigg - 2008 - In Dean Rickles (ed.), The Ashgate Companion to Contemporary Philosophy of Physics. London, U.K.: Ashgate. pp. 991-96.
    This is an extensive review of recent work on the foundations of statistical mechanics.
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