Causality and the arrow of classical time

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 31 (1):1-13 (2000)
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It is claimed that the `problem of the arrow of time in classical dynamics' has been solved. Since all classical particles have a self-field (gravitational and in some cases also electromagnetic), their dynamics must include self-interaction. This fact and the observation that the domain of validity of classical physics is restricted to distances not less than of the order of a Compton wavelength (thus excluding point particles), leads to the conclusion that the fundamental classical equations of motion are not invariant under time reversal: retarded self-interactions lead to different equations than advanced ones. Since causality (the time order of cause and effect) requires retarded rather than advanced self-interaction, it is causality which is ultimately responsible for the arrow of time. Classical motions described by equations with advanced self-interactions differ from retarded ones and do not occur in nature.



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Citations of this work

Time in Thermodynamics.Jill North - 2011 - In Criag Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time. Oxford University Press. pp. 312--350.
Absorbing the Arrow of Electromagnetic Radiation.Mario Hubert & Charles T. Sebens - 2023 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 99 (C):10-27.
Philosophical issues in electromagnetism.Mathias Frisch - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 4 (1):255-270.
Comment on: “Causality and the arrow of classical time”, by Fritz Rohrlich.Carlo Rovelli - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (3):397-405.

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References found in this work

The direction of time.Hans Reichenbach - 1956 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Maria Reichenbach.
Asymmetries in Time.Paul Horwich - 1990 - Noûs 24 (5):804-806.
Pluralistic ontology and theory reduction in the physical sciences.Fritz Rohrlich - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (3):295-312.

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