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Agency in Physics

ROVELLI, Carlo (2020) Agency in Physics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

I discuss three aspects of the notion of agency from the standpoint of physics: (i) what makes a physical system an agent; (ii) the reason for agency's time orientation; (iii) the source of the information generated in choosing an action. I observe that agency is the breaking of an approximation under which dynamics appears closed. I distinguish different notions of agency, and observe that the answer to the questions above differ in different cases. I notice a structural similarity between agency and memory, that allows us to model agency, trace its time asymmetry to thermodynamical irreversibility, and identify the source of the information generated by agency in the growth of entropy. Agency is therefore a physical mechanism that transforms low entropy into information. This may be the general mechanism at the source of the whole information on which biology builds.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
ROVELLI, Carlorovelli@cpt.univ-mrs.fr0000-0003-1724-9737
Keywords: Agency, Thermodynamics, Arrow of Time, Information, Free Will.
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Carlo ROVELLI
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2020 03:27
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2020 03:27
Item ID: 17454
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17454

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