The Meta-Reversibility Objection

In Barry Loewer, Brad Weslake & Eric B. Winsberg (eds.), The Probability Map of the Universe: Essays on David Albert’s _time and Chance_. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press (2023)
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Abstract

One popular approach to statistical mechanics understands statistical mechanical probabilities as measures of rational indifference. Naive formulations of this ``indifference approach'' face reversibility worries - while they yield the right prescriptions regarding future events, they yield the wrong prescriptions regarding past events. This paper begins by showing how the indifference approach can overcome the standard reversibility worries by appealing to the Past Hypothesis. But, the paper argues, positing a Past Hypothesis doesn't free the indifference approach from all reversibility worries. For while appealing to the Past Hypothesis allows it to escape one kind of reversibility worry, it makes it susceptible to another - the Meta-Reversibility Objection. And there is no easy way for the indifference approach to escape the Meta-Reversibility Objection. As a result, reversibility worries pose a steep challenge to the viability of the indifference approach.

Author's Profile

Christopher J. G. Meacham
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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