Calling for explanation: the case of the thermodynamic past state

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-20 (2020)
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Abstract

Philosophers of physics have long debated whether the Past State of low entropy of our universe calls for explanation. What is meant by “calls for explanation”? In this article we analyze this notion, distinguishing between several possible meanings that may be attached to it. Taking the debate around the Past State as a case study, we show how our analysis of what “calling for explanation” might mean can contribute to clarifying the debate and perhaps to settling it, thus demonstrating the fruitfulness of this analysis. Applying our analysis, we show that two main opponents in this debate, Huw Price and Craig Callender, are, for the most part, talking past each other rather than disagreeing, as they employ different notions of “calling for explanation”. We then proceed to show how answering the different questions that arise out of the different meanings of “calling for explanation” can result in clarifying the problems at hand and thus, hopefully, to solving them.

Author Profiles

Dan Baras
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan
Orly Shenker
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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