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The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws

Chen, Eddy Keming (2020) The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws. [Preprint]

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Abstract

If the Past Hypothesis underlies the arrows of time, what is the status of the Past Hypothesis? In this paper, I examine the role of the Past Hypothesis in the Boltzmannian account and defend the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law of nature. Such a view is known to be compatible with Humeanism about laws, but as I argue it is also supported by a minimal non-Humean "governing" view. Some worries arise from the non-dynamical and time-dependent character of the Past Hypothesis as a boundary condition, the intrinsic vagueness in its specification, and the nature of the initial probability distribution. I show that these worries do not have much force, and in any case they become less relevant in a new quantum framework for analyzing time's arrows--the Wentaculus. Hence, the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law should be more widely accepted than it is now.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Chen, Eddy Kemingeddykemingchen@ucsd.edu0000-0001-5144-0952
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg, and Brad Weslake (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World, Harvard University Press
Keywords: time's arrow, counterfactuals, laws of nature, vagueness, objective probabilities, typicality, scientific explanation, Past Hypothesis, Statistical Postulate, Humeanism, non-Humeanism, minimal primitivism, the Mentaculus, the Wentaculus, quantum statistical mechanics, density matrix realism
Subjects: General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Keming Chen
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2020 11:11
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2020 11:11
Item ID: 18114
Subjects: General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: September 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18114

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