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From Arbuthnot to Boltzmann: The Past Hypothesis, the Best System, and the Special Sciences

Mathias Frisch
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 78, No. 5 (December 2011), pp. 1001-1011
DOI: 10.1086/662276
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/662276
Page Count: 11
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From Arbuthnot to Boltzmann: The Past Hypothesis, the Best System, and the Special Sciences
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Abstract

In recent work on the foundations of statistical mechanics and the arrow of time, Barry Loewer and David Albert have developed a view that defends both a best system account of laws and a physicalist fundamentalism. I argue that there is a tension between their account of laws, which emphasizes the pragmatic element in assessing the relative strength of different deductive systems, and their reductivism or fundamentalism. If we take the pragmatic dimension in their account seriously, then the laws of the special sciences should be part of our best explanatory system of the world, as well.

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