Chance and Temporal Asymmetry

ISBN : 9780199673421

Alastair Wilson
320 ページ
167 x 241 mm

Chance and Temporal Asymmetry presents a collection of cutting-edge research papers in the metaphysics of science, tackling the perplexing philosophical problems raised by recent progress in the physics and metaphysics of chance and time. How do the probabilities found in fundamental physics and the probabilities of the special sciences relate to one another? Can a constraint on the initial conditions of the universe underwrite the second law of thermodynamics? How does contemporary quantum theory reframe debates over the nature of chance? What grounds do we have for believing in a fundamental direction to time? And how do all these questions connect up? The aim of the volume is both to survey and summarize recent debates about chance and temporal asymmetry and to push them forward. Familiar approaches are subjected to searching new critiques, and bold new proposals are made concerning (inter alia) the semantics of chance-attributions, the justification of the Principal Principle connecting chance and degree of belief, and the source of the temporal asymmetry of human experience. The contributors include world-leading figures in the field, all presenting new work rather than rehashing old ideas, as well as a number of promising junior scholars. A wide-ranging introduction connects the different chapters together, and provides essential background to the debates they take up. Technicality is kept to a minimum and philosophical and conceptual foundations take centre stage. Chance and Temporal Asymmetry sets the agenda for future work on time and chance, which are central to the emerging sub-field of metaphysics of science. It will be indispensable to graduate students and to specialists in metaphysics and philosophy of science.


Introduction: Chance and Temporal Asymmetry
1. Chance and Context
2. Autonomous Chances and the Conflicts Problem
3. Consistency and Admissibility: Reply to Meacham
4. Proving the Principal Principle
5. A Chancy 'Magic Trick'
6. From Kolmogorov, to Popper, to Renyi: There?s No Escaping Humphreys? Paradox (When Generalized)
7. Is the Past a Matter of Chance?
8. The Sharpness of the Distinction Between the Past and the Future
9. Experience and the Arrow
10. Probability in Physics: Stochastic, Statistical, Quantum
11. Why Physics Can't Explain Everything
12. Statistical-Mechanical Imperialism
13. Hume's Dictum and Natural Modality: Counterfactuals
14. Time, Chance, and the Necessity of Everything


Alastair Wilson is a Birmingham Fellow at the University of Birmingham and an Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University. He received his D.Phil from Oxford University in 2011, for a thesis on the metaphysical challenges and opportunities arising from Everettian (many-worlds) quantum mechanics. His current research focuses on modality, chance and fundamentality, and on epistemological and metaphysical questions in cosmology