The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws

In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract
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 character of the Past Hypothesis as a boundary condition, the intrinsic vagueness in its specification, and the nature of the initial probability distribution. I show that these worries do not have much force, and in any case they become less relevant in a new quantum framework for analyzing time's arrows---the Wentaculus. Hence, the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law should be more widely accepted than it is now.
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First archival date: 2020-08-03
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