A remarkable thesis prevails in the physics of information, saying that the logical properties of operations that are carried out by computers determine their physical properties. More specifically, it says that logically irreversible operations are dissipative by klog2 per bit of lost information. (A function is logically irreversible if its input cannot be recovered from its output. An operation is dissipative if it turns useful forms of energy into useless ones, such as heat energy.) This is Landauer's dissipation thesis, hereafter (...) LDT. LDT underlies and motivates numerous researches in physics and computer science. Nevertheless, this paper shows that is it plainly wrong. This conclusion is based on a detailed study of LDT in terms of the various notions of entropy used in main stream statistical mechanics. It is supported by a counter example for LDT. Further support is found in an analysis of the phase space representation on which LDT relies. This analysis emphasises the constraints placed on the choice of probability distribution by the fact that it has to be the basis for calculating phase averages corresponding to thermodynamic properties of individual systems. An alternative representation is offered, in which logical irreversibility has nothing to do with dissipation. The strong connection between logic and physics, that LDT implies, is thereby broken off. (shrink)
We present a novel reductive theory of type-identity physicalism, which is inspired by the foundations of statistical mechanics as a general theory of natural kinds. We show that all the claims mounted against type-identity physicalism in the literature don’t apply to Flat Physicalism, and moreover that this reductive theory solves many of the problems faced by the various non-reductive approaches including functionalism. In particular, we show that Flat Physicalism can account for the appearance of multiple realizability in the special sciences, (...) and that it gives a novel account of the genuine autonomy of the kinds and laws in the special sciences. We further show that the thesis of genuine multiple realization, which is compatible with all forms of non-reductive approaches including functionalism, implies what we call token-dualism; namely the idea that in every token there are non-physical facts, which may either be non-physical properties or some non-physical substance. In other words, we prove that non-reductive kinds necessarily assume non-reductive tokens, i.e., token dualism. Finally, we show that all forms of non-reductive approaches including functionalism imply a literally multi-leveled structure of reality. (shrink)
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 present paper is an (...) attempt to understand this attraction-repulsion story. It offers a version of interventionism that appears to be defensible, and shows that this version can meet the main objections raised against it. It then investigates some of the philosophical ideas underlying interventionism, and proposes that these may be the source of the resentment interventionism encounters. This paves the way to see some features and consequences of interventionism, often taken to be shortcomings, as philosophically advantageous. (shrink)
This paper argues that the idea of a Maxwellian Demon presupposes a notion of non-physical free will. The author has changed her mind in this point later on and now thinks that Mawellian Demons are compatible with mechanics; see her paper on this from 2010 and book from 2012.
In recent years the magnificent world of fractals has been revealed. Some of the fractal images resemble natural forms so closely that Benoit Mandelbrot's hypothesis, that the fractal geometry is the geometry of natural objects, has been accepted by scientists and non-scientists alike. The present paper critically examines Mandelbrot's hypothesis. It first analyzes the concept of a fractal. The analysis reveals that fractals are endless geometrical processes, and not geometrical forms. A comparison between fractals and irrational numbers shows that the (...) former are ontologically and epistemologically even more problematic than the latter. Therefore, it is argued, a proper understanding of the concept of fractal is inconsistent with ascribing a fractal structure to natural objects. Moreover, it is shown that, empirically, the so-called fractal images disconfirm Mandelbrot's hypothesis. It is conceded that the fractal geometry can be used as a useful rough approximation, but this fact has no bearing on the physical theory of natural forms. (shrink)
Multiple realizability seems to be empirically justified and provides the conceptual basis for the autonomy of the special sciences. But it is mysterious. In this talk I propose a new reductionist approach to the special sciences that removes the mystery: I explain why the special sciences kinds appear to be multiply realized although they are identical with physical kinds and in what sense the special sciences kinds and laws are autonomous although they are physical laws. This approach is based on (...) the approach by Hemmo & Shenker to the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics. (shrink)
The appearance of multiple realization of the special sciences kinds by physical kinds can be fully explained within a type-identity reductive physicalist framework, based on recent findings in the foundations of statistical mechanics. This has been shown in Hemmo and Shenker. However, while this account is available for special sciences like biology and thermodynamics, it is unavailable for psychology. Therefore the only coherent physicalist account of psychology is a type-type identity account. The so-called “non reductive” physicalism turns out to be (...) an incoherent idea, and functionalism and supervenience cannot salvage it. At the same time, within a type-identity account properly understood one can give a full account of the anomaly of psychology and understand in what sense the special sciences - including psychology - are autonomous. (shrink)
Mara Beller's book Quantum Dialogue: The Making of a Revolution is a book in history and historiography, which invites a philosophical reading. The book offers a new and quite radical approach in the philosophy of science, which Beller calls dialogism, and it demonstrates the application of this approach by studying cases in the history of physics. This paper reconstructs of some of the book's theses, in a way which emphasises its philosophical insights, and goes on to shows how philosophically far (...) dialogism can take us. The example on which the paper focuses is the demarcation between science and non-science. (shrink)