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Statistical Mechanics:A Tale of Two Theories

Frigg, Roman and Werndl, Charlotte (2019) Statistical Mechanics:A Tale of Two Theories. The Monist. pp. 424-438.

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Abstract

There are two theoretical approaches in statistical mechanics, one associated with Boltzmann and the other with Gibbs. The theoretical apparatus of the two approaches offer distinct descriptions of the same physical system with no obvious way to translate the concepts of one formalism into those of the other. This raises the question of the status of one approach vis-\`{a}-vis the other. We answer this question by arguing that the Boltzmannian approach is a fundamental theory while GSM is an effective theory, and we describe some circumstances under which Gibbsian calculations coincide with the the Boltzmannian results. We then point out that regarding GSM as an effective theory has important repercussions for a number of projects, in particular attempts to turn GSM into a non-equilibrium theory.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Frigg, Romanr.p.frigg@lse.ac.uk
Werndl, Charlottec.s.werndl@lse.ac.uk
Keywords: statistical mechanics, Gibbs, Boltzmann, effective theory.
Subjects: General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Roman Frigg
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2022 06:33
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2022 06:33
Item ID: 20923
Journal or Publication Title: The Monist
Publisher: Oxford UP
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/monist/issue/102/4
Subjects: General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: 2019
Page Range: pp. 424-438
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20923

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