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How to Explain the Direction of Time

Fernandes, Alison (2022) How to Explain the Direction of Time. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Reichenbach explains temporally asymmetric phenomena by appeal to entropy and ‘branch structure’. He explains why the entropic gradients of isolated subsystems are oriented towards the future and not the past, and why we have records of the past and not the future, by appeal to the fact that the universe is currently on a long entropic upgrade with subsystems that branch off and become quasi-isolated. Reichenbach’s approach has been criticised for relying too closely on entropy. The more popular approach nowadays is to appeal instead to a particular low-entropy initial state—Albert’s ‘Past Hypothesis’. I’ll argue that this neglect of Reichenbach’s approach is unwarranted. A Reichenbachian account has important advantages over Albert’s: it correctly identifies the minimal temporally asymmetric posit needed to derive key temporally asymmetries and it offers a more adequate account of the record asymmetry. While a Reichenbachian account needs to be supplemented, it provides the right foundations for explaining temporally asymmetric phenomena and what we might ultimately mean by ‘the direction of time’.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Fernandes, Alisonasfernan@tcd.ie0000-0003-1358-0078
Keywords: Direction of Time, Reichenbach, Entropy, Record Asymmetry, Albert, Past Hypothesis
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Dr Alison Fernandes
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2022 22:34
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2022 22:34
Item ID: 20955
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: July 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20955

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