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Reduction of Thermodynamics: A Few Problems

Sang Wook Yi
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 70, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2002 Biennial Meeting of The Philosophy of Science AssociationPart I: Contributed PapersEdited by Sandra D. Mitchell (December 2003), pp. 1028-1038
DOI: 10.1086/377386
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/377386
Page Count: 11
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Reduction of Thermodynamics: A Few Problems
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Abstract

Lawrence Sklar in his book, Physics and Chance (1993), proposes a sophisticated account of reduction of thermodynamics (TD) by statistical mechanics (SM). I argue that Sklar's analysis of the alleged reduction of TD by SM is problematic in several respects. I consider a few counterexamples to show that none of what Sklar takes to be the central features of successful reduction in science (unification and identification) holds in the case of TD and SM. I suggest the broader conclusion that a more useful way of understanding the relationship between TD and SM is as collaboration and competition among alternative methodologies rather than reduction of one theory to another.

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