An Alternative Interpretation of Statistical Mechanics

Erkenntnis 85 (1):1-21 (2020)
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Abstract

In this paper I propose an interpretation of classical statistical mechanics that centers on taking seriously the idea that probability measures represent complete states of statistical mechanical systems. I show how this leads naturally to the idea that the stochasticity of statistical mechanics is associated directly with the observables of the theory rather than with the microstates (as traditional accounts would have it). The usual assumption that microstates are representationally significant in the theory is therefore dispensable, a consequence which suggests interesting possibilities for developing non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and investigating inter-theoretic answers to the foundational questions of statistical mechanics.

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C. D. McCoy
Yonsei University

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