Wallace, David
(2016)
Probability and Irreversibility in Modern Statistical Mechanics: Classical and Quantum.
[Preprint]
Abstract
Through extended consideration of two wide classes of case studies  dilute gases and linear systems  I explore the ways in which assumptions of probability and irreversibility occur in contemporary statistical mechanics, where the latter is understood as primarily concerned with the derivation of quantitative higherlevel equations of motion, and only derivatively with underpinning the equilibrium concept in thermodynamics. I argue that at least in this wide class of examples, (i) irreversibility is introduced through a reasonably welldefined initialstate condition which does not precisely map onto those in the extant philosophical literature; (ii) probability is explicitly required both in the foundations and in the predictions of the theory. I then consider the same examples, as well as the more general context, in the light of quantum mechanics, and demonstrate that while the analysis of irreversibility is largely unaffected by quantum considerations, the notion of statisticalmechanical probability is entirely reduced to quantummechanical probability.
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