Chance and Temporal Asymmetry

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Alastair Wilson
Oxford University Press, 2014 - Philosophy - 297 pages
Chance and Temporal Asymmetry presents a collection of cutting-edge research papers in the metaphysics of science, tackling the perplexing philosophical problems raised by recent progress in the physics and metaphysics of chance and time. How do the probabilities found in fundamental physics
and the probabilities of the special sciences relate to one another? Can a constraint on the initial conditions of the universe underwrite the second law of thermodynamics? How does contemporary quantum theory reframe debates over the nature of chance? What grounds do we have for believing in a
fundamental direction to time? And how do all these questions connect up?
The aim of the volume is both to survey and summarize recent debates about chance and temporal asymmetry and to push them forward. Familiar approaches are subjected to searching new critiques, and bold new proposals are made concerning (inter alia) the semantics of chance-attributions, the
justification of the Principal Principle connecting chance and degree of belief, and the source of the temporal asymmetry of human experience.
The contributors include world-leading figures in the field, all presenting new work rather than rehashing old ideas, as well as a number of promising junior scholars. A wide-ranging introduction connects the different chapters together, and provides essential background to the debates they take up.
Technicality is kept to a minimum and philosophical and conceptual foundations take centre stage.

Chance and Temporal Asymmetry sets the agenda for future work on time and chance, which are central to the emerging sub-field of metaphysics of science. It will be indispensable to graduate students and to specialists in metaphysics and philosophy of science.

 

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Contents

Chance and Temporal A symmetry
1
1 Chance and Context
19
2 Autonomous Chances and the Conflicts Problem
45
Reply to Meacham
68
4 Proving the Principal Principle
81
5 A Chancy Magic Trick
100
Theres No Escaping Humphreys Paradox When Generalized
112
7 Is the Past a Matter of Chance?
126
9 Experience and the Arrow
175
Stochastic Statistical Quantum
194
11 Why Physics Cant Explain Everything
221
12 Statistical Mechanical Imperialism
241
13 Humes Dictum and the Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence
258
14 Time Chance and the Necessity of Everything
280
Index
295
Copyright

8 The Sharpness of the Distinction between the Past and the Future
159

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About the author (2014)


Alastair Wilson is a Birmingham Fellow at the University of Birmingham and an Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University. He received his D.Phil from Oxford University in 2011, for a thesis on the metaphysical challenges and opportunities arising from Everettian (many-worlds) quantum mechanics.
His current research focuses on modality, chance and fundamentality, and on epistemological and metaphysical questions in cosmology.

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