Typicality of Dynamics and the Laws of Nature

In Cristian Soto (ed.), Current Debates in Philosophy of Science: In Honor of Roberto Torretti. Synthese Library Series, Springer (2021)
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Abstract
Certain results, most famously in classical statistical mechanics and complex systems, but also in quantum mechanics and high-energy physics, yield a coarse-grained stable statistical pattern in the long run. The explanation of these results shares a common structure: the results hold for a 'typical' dynamics, that is, for most of the underlying dynamics. In this paper I argue that the structure of the explanation of these results might shed some light --a different light-- on philosophical debates on the laws of nature. In the explanation of such patterns, the specific form of the underlying dynamics is almost irrelevant. The conditions required, given a free state-space evolution, suffice to account for the coarse-grained lawful behaviour. An analysis of such conditions might thus provide a different account of how regular behaviour can occur. This paper focuses on drawing attention to this type of explanation, outlining it in the diverse areas of physics in which it appears, and discussing its limitations and significance in the tractable setting of classical statistical mechanics.
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Archival date: 2021-03-18
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