The Best Humean System for Statistical Mechanics
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Classical statistical mechanics posits probabilities for various events to occur, and these probabilities seem to be objective chances. This does not seem to sit well with the fact that the theory’s time evolution is deterministic. We argue that the tension between the two is only apparent. We present a theory of Humean objective chance and show that chances thus understood are compatible with underlying determinism and provide an interpretation of the probabilities we find in Boltzmannian statistical mechanics.
This paper was presented at the IHPST workshop “Probability in Biology and Physics” in Paris, February 2009. We would like to thank the organisers for the opportunity and the audience for stimulating comments. Furthermore, We would like to thank Nancy Cartwright, José Díez, Jossi Berkovitz, Mathias Frisch, Barry Loewer, Alan Hájek, Aidan Lyon, Kristina Musholt, Huw Price, Josefa Toribio, and Eric Winsberg for helpful discussions. Thanks are also due to two anonymous referees for helpful comments. RF acknowledges financial support from Grant FFI2012-37354 of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN). CH acknowledges the generous support of Spanish MICINN grants FFI2008-06418-C03-03 and FFI2011-29834-C03-03, AGAUR grant SGR2009-01528, and MICINN Consolider-Ingenio grant CSD2009-00056.
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