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  1. Understanding probability and irreversibility in the Mori-Zwanzig projection operator formalism.Michael te Vrugt - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (3):1-36.
    Explaining the emergence of stochastic irreversible macroscopic dynamics from time-reversible deterministic microscopic dynamics is one of the key problems in philosophy of physics. The Mori-Zwanzig projection operator formalism, which is one of the most important methods of modern nonequilibrium statistical mechanics, allows for a systematic derivation of irreversible transport equations from reversible microdynamics and thus provides a useful framework for understanding this issue. However, discussions of the MZ formalism in philosophy of physics tend to focus on simple variants rather than (...)
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  • Degeneration and Entropy.Eugene Chua - forthcoming - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy.
    [Accepted for publication in Lakatos's Undone Work: The Practical Turn and the Division of Philosophy of Mathematics and Philosophy of Science, special issue of Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy. Edited by S. Nagler, H. Pilin, and D. Sarikaya.] Lakatos’s analysis of progress and degeneration in the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes is well-known. Less known, however, are his thoughts on degeneration in Proofs and Refutations. I propose and motivate two new criteria for degeneration based on the discussion in Proofs and Refutations (...)
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  • Two Approaches to Reduction: A Case Study From Statistical Mechanics.Bixin Guo - unknown
    I argue that there are two distinct approaches to understand reduction: the ontology-first approach and the theory-first approach. Further, I argue for the significance of this distinction by demonstrating that either one or the other approach has been taken as an implicit assumption in, and has in fact shaped, our understanding of what statistical mechanics is. More specifically, I argue that the Boltzmannian framework of statistical mechanics assumes and relies on the ontology-first approach, whereas the Gibbsian framework should assume the (...)
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  • What’s so Special About Initial Conditions? Understanding the Past Hypothesis in Directionless Time.Matt Farr - 2021 - In Yemima Ben-Menahem (ed.), Rethinking the Concept of Laws of Nature: Natural order in the Light of Contemporary Science. Springer.
    It is often said that the world is explained by laws of nature together with initial conditions. But does that mean initial conditions don’t require further explanation? And does the explanatory role played by initial conditions entail or require that time has a preferred direction? This chapter looks at the use of the ‘initialness defence’ in physics, the idea that initial conditions are intrinsically special in that they don’t require further explanation, unlike the state of the world at other times. (...)
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  • Historical and Conceptual Foundations of Information Physics.Anta Javier - 2021 - Dissertation, Universitat de Barcelona
    The main objective of this dissertation is to philosophically assess how the use of informational concepts in the field of classical thermostatistical physics has historically evolved from the late 1940s to the present day. I will first analyze in depth the main notions that form the conceptual basis on which 'informational physics' historically unfolded, encompassing (i) different entropy, probability and information notions, (ii) their multiple interpretative variations, and (iii) the formal, numerical and semantic-interpretative relationships among them. In the following, I (...)
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  • 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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  • Can Informational Thermal Physics Explain the Approach to Equilibrium?Javier Anta - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):4015–4038.
    In this paper I will defend the incapacity of the informational frameworks in thermal physics, mainly those that historically and conceptually derive from the work of Brillouin (1962) and Jaynes (1957a), to robustly explain the approach of certain gaseous systems to their state of thermal equilibrium from the dynamics of their molecular components. I will further argue that, since their various interpretative, conceptual and technical-formal resources (e.g. epistemic interpretations of probabilities and entropy measures, identification of thermal entropy as Shannon information, (...)
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  • Non-equilibrium thermodynamics and the free energy principle in biology.Matteo Colombo & Patricia Palacios - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (5):1-26.
    According to the free energy principle, life is an “inevitable and emergent property of any random dynamical system at non-equilibrium steady state that possesses a Markov blanket” :20130475, 2013). Formulating a principle for the life sciences in terms of concepts from statistical physics, such as random dynamical system, non-equilibrium steady state and ergodicity, places substantial constraints on the theoretical and empirical study of biological systems. Thus far, however, the physics foundations of the free energy principle have received hardly any attention. (...)
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  • The Epistemic Schism of Statistical Mechanics.Javier Anta - 2021 - Theoria 36 (3):399-419.
    In this paper I will argue that the two main approaches to statistical mechanics, that of Boltzmann and Gibbs, constitute two substantially different theoretical apparatuses. Particularly, I defend that this theoretical split must be philosophically understood as a separation of epistemic functions within this physical domain: while Boltzmannians are able to generate powerful explanations of thermal phenomena from molecular dynamics, Gibbsians can statistically predict observable values in a highly effective way. Therefore, statistical mechanics is a counterexample to Hempel's (1958) symmetry (...)
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  • The Structure of Space and Time, and Physical Indeterminacy.Hanoch Ben-Yami - manuscript
    I introduce a sequence which I call indefinite: a sequence every element of which has a successor but whose number of elements is bounded; this is no contradiction. I then consider the possibility of space and time being indefinitely divisible. This is theoretically possible and agrees with experience. If this is space and time’s structure, then even if the laws of nature are deterministic, the behaviour of physical systems will be probabilistic. This approach may also shed light on directionality in (...)
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  • The Five Problems of Irreversibility.Michael te Vrugt - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87:136-146.