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Two Approaches to Reduction: A Case Study from Statistical Mechanics

Guo, Bixin (2020) Two Approaches to Reduction: A Case Study from Statistical Mechanics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

I argue that there are two distinct approaches to understanding reduction: the ontology-first approach and the theory-first approach. They concern the relation between ontological reduction and inter-theoretic reduction. Further, I argue for the significance of this distinction by demonstrating that either one or the other approach has been taken as an implicit assumption in, and has in fact shaped, our understanding of what statistical mechanics is. More specifically, I argue that the Boltzmannian framework of statistical mechanics assumes and relies on the ontology-first approach, whereas the Gibbsian framework should assume the theory-first approach.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Guo, Bixinbig15@pitt.edu
Keywords: Reduction, Statistical mechanics, Boltzmannian Framework, Gibbsian Framework, Probability, Coarse-graining
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Bixin Guo
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2023 15:57
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 15:57
Item ID: 22733
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1017/psa.2023.52
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: September 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/22733

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