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The epistemic schism of statistical mechanics

Anta, Javier (2021) The epistemic schism of statistical mechanics. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 36 (3). pp. 399-419. ISSN 2171-679X

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Abstract

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 thesis, where the predictive capacity of a theory is directly correlated with its explanatory potential and vice versa.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Anta, Javierantajav@gmail.com0000-0002-4409-7719
Additional Information: ISSN: 0495-4548 (print)
Keywords: Statistical Mechanics, Explanation, Prediction, Hempel, Boltzmann, Gibbs
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email theoria@ehu.es
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2021 05:02
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2021 05:02
Item ID: 20000
Journal or Publication Title: THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science
Publisher: Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
Official URL: https://ojs.ehu.eus/index.php/THEORIA/article/view...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1387/theoria.22134
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: September 2021
Page Range: pp. 399-419
Volume: 36
Number: 3
ISSN: 2171-679X
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20000

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