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Time's Arrow in a Quantum Universe: On the Status of Statistical Mechanical Probabilities

In Valia Allori (ed.), Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature. World Scientific. pp. 479–515 (2020)

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  1. From Time Asymmetry to Quantum Entanglement: The Humean Unification.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Two of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics are (1) what gives rise to the arrow of time and (2) what the ontology of quantum mechanics is. I propose a unified 'Humean' solution to the two problems. Humeanism allows us to incorporate the Past Hypothesis and the Statistical Postulate into the best system, which we then use to simplify the quantum state of the universe. This enables us to confer the nomological status to the quantum state in (...)
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  • The Cosmic Void.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-Being: New Essays on the Metaphysics of Nonexistence. Oxford University Press.
    What exists at the fundamental level of reality? On the standard picture, the fundamental reality contains (among other things) fundamental matter, such as particles, fields, or even the quantum state. Non-fundamental facts are explained by facts about fundamental matter, at least in part. In this paper, I introduce a non-standard picture called the "cosmic void” in which the universe is devoid of any fundamental material ontology. Facts about tables and chairs are recovered from a special kind of laws that satisfy (...)
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  • Uniform Probability Distribution Over All Density Matrices.Eddy Keming Chen & Roderich Tumulka - manuscript
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  • Quantum Mechanics in a Time-Asymmetric Universe: On the Nature of the Initial Quantum State.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy068.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, we postulate a low-entropy boundary condition to account for the temporal asymmetry. In this paper, I show that the Past Hypothesis also contains enough information to simplify the quantum ontology and define a unique initial condition in such a world. First, I introduce Density Matrix Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a fundamental density matrix that represents something objective. This stands in sharp contrast to Wave Function (...)
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  • Some Reflections on the Statistical Postulate: Typicality, Probability and Explanation Between Deterministic and Indeterministic Theories.Valia Allori - forthcoming - In Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature, (2020).
    A common way of characterizing Boltzmann’s explanation of thermodynamics in term of statistical mechanics is with reference to three ingredients: the dynamics, the past hypothesis, and the statistical postulate. In this paper I focus on the statistical postulate, and I have three aims. First, I wish to argue that regarding the statistical postulate as a probability postulate may be too strong: a postulate about typicality would be enough. Second, I wish to show that there is no need to postulate anything, (...)
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  • The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
    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 (...)
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