Graduate seminar, Fall 2008. Open to graduate students only.
Adam Elga (follow link for contact information, office hour).
Class meeting time: Mondays 10:00am-12:50pm.
Location: Marx Hall 201
Seminar description: There is a radical disconnect between everyday descriptions of the physical world (in terms of tables, chairs, and so on), and the sorts of descriptions given to us by physicists (in terms of fundamental particles and forces). We will consider attempts to reconcile the two sorts of descriptions. Topics will include statistical mechancs and the direction of time, causal asymmetry, and the flow of time.
Units: If you might write a unit paper associated with this course, then right away please read my grad student unit guide.
Readings: To access the readings (all available electronically, as linked below), you will need a userid (the userid is "guest") and a password (announced in class). If you would like to preview the readings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In many cases, only a subsection of the linked reading is required. In those cases, the required chapter or page range is listed after the reading itself.
The readings will be adjusted during the semester. Changes will appear on this page.
Huw Price. Time's arrow Chapter 1. Read from the section entitled "The stock philosophical debates about time" until the end of the chapter.
Paul Horwich. Asymmetries in time. Chapter 1. Sections 1-2.
Reversibility and thermodynamics
David Albert. Time and Chance. Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
Optional: Lawrence Sklar. Physics and Chance. Chapter 2, section I
Boltzmannian statistical mechanics
David Albert. Time and Chance. Chapter 3 and Chapter 4
Shelly Goldstein. Boltzmann's approach to statistical mechanics
Review pp. 91-96 of David Albert. Time and Chance. Chapter 4
Review pp. 14-16 of Shelly Goldstein. Boltzmann's approach to statistical mechanics
Huw Price. Time's arrow Chapter 2. Read starting from the section "Boltzmann's symmetric view."
Craig Callender. Measures, Explanations and the Past: Should 'Special' Initial Conditions be Explained?
Optional: Huw Price. Time's arrow Chapter 3: New light on the arrow of radiation
Optional: Jill North. Understanding the Time-Asymmetry of Radiation
The knowledge asymmetry
David Albert. Time and Chance. Chapter 6
Paul Horwich. Asymmetries in time. Chapter 5: Knowledge
The fork asymmetry and the asymmetry of causation
Nancy Cartwright. Causal laws and effective strategies
Huw Price. Time's Arrow. Chapter 6: In search of the third arrow
Common cause principle
Frank Arntzenius. Reichenbach's common cause principle. Pay special attention to section 3.3.
Optional. Hartry Field. Causation in a physical world. Section 2.
Barry Loewer. Counterfactuals and the second law
Hartry Field. Causation in a physical world. Section 3.
Constraints on the future
Greg Egan. The hundred light year diary
Huw Price. Time's arrow and that old double standard. Read section entitled "Is a reversing future observable? Is it consistent?" (pp. 86-91)
Nick Smith. Bananas enough for time travel. Read section 3 (pp. 366-7) and section entitled "Third Case" (pp. 376-8)
Frank Arntzenius and Tim Maudlin. Time travel and modern physics. Read Section 5 "Two Toy Models"
Squaring commonsense physics with fundamental physics
David Wallace. Everett and Structure. Read section 4 ("Understanding higher-order ontology")
Tim Maudlin. Descrying the world in the wavefunction. Read pp. 1-14.
Daniel Dennett. Real patterns. Read sections I-III.
Guest seminar leader: Brad Skow, MIT Philosophy
Tim Maudlin. On the passing of time
Craig Callender. The Common Now
Time's flow, cont'd
Tim Maudlin. On the passing of time We will discuss the "doppleganger objection".
Craig Callender. The Common Now
David Albert. Time and Chance. Chapter 5
Craig Callender. A Collision Between Dynamics and Thermodynamics
Reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics
Craig Callender. Taking thermodynamics (too) seriously
Craig Callender. Reducing Thermodynamics to Statistical Mechanics: The Case of Entropy
Craig Callender. Thermodynamic Asymmetry in Time
Craig Callender. The past hypothesis meets gravity
David Albert. Time and Chance. Appendix
Jill North. Two views on time reversal
Spohn. Large scale dynamics of interacting particles Chapter 9: The role of probability, irreversibility
Huw Price. Time's arrow Chapter 8
Ned Hall. Structural equations and causation
The common cause principle
Optional: Dorothy Edgington. Counterfactuals and the benefits of hindsightAdam Elga | Princeton University