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Explaining Thermodynamics: What remains to be done?

Myrvold, Wayne C. (2019) Explaining Thermodynamics: What remains to be done? [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this chapter I urge a fresh look at the problem of explaining equilibration. The process of equilibration, I argue, is best seen, not as part of the subject matter of thermodynamics, but as a presupposition of thermodynamics. Further, the relevant tension between the macroscopic phenomena of equilibration and the underlying microdynamics lies not in a tension between time-reversal invariance of the microdynamics and the temporal asymmetry of equilibration, but in a tension between preservation of distinguishability of states at the level of microphysics and the continual effacing of the past at the macroscopic level. This suggests an open systems approach, where the puzzling question is not the erasure of the past, but the question of how reliable prediction, given only macroscopic data, is ever possible at all. I suggest that the answer lies in an approach that has not been afforded sufficient attention in the philosophical literature, namely, one based on the temporal asymmetry of causal explanation.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Myrvold, Wayne C.wmyrvold@uwo.ca0000-0002-7033-2647
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Valia Allori, ed., Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature, World Scientific.
Keywords: Thermodynamics, Statistical mechanics, Minus First Law, equlibration, explanation.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Wayne Myrvold
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2019 15:05
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2019 15:05
Item ID: 16217
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: 2019
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16217

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