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Entropy 2012, 14(3), 390-406; doi:10.3390/e14030390

Bumps on the Road to Here (from Eternity)

Department of Philosophy, The University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, FAO226, Tampa, FL 33620, USA
Received: 20 December 2011 / Revised: 14 February 2012 / Accepted: 16 February 2012 / Published: 23 February 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arrow of Time)
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Abstract

In his recent book, From Eternity to Here, and in other more technical papers, Sean Carroll (partly in collaboration with Jennifer Chen) has put forward an intriguing new way to think about the origin of the Universe. His approach, in a nutshell, is to raise certain worries about a standard Boltzmannian picture of statistical mechanics, and to present certain commitments that he thinks we ought to hold—commitments that the standard picture doesn’t share. He then proposes a cosmological model—one that purports to give us insight into what sort of process brought about the “initial state” of the universe—that can uniquely accommodate those commitments. The conclusion of Carroll’s argument is that statistical mechanical reasoning provides grounds for provisionally accepting that cosmological model. My goal in this paper is to reconstruct and critically assess this proposal. I argue that “statistical cosmology” requires a careful balance of philosophical intuitions and commitments against technical, scientific considerations; how much stock we ought to place in these intuitions and commitments should depend on where they lead us—those that lead us astray scientifically might well be in need of philosophical re‑examination.
Keywords: time; statistical mechanics; cosmology; Boltzmann; entropy; reversibility time; statistical mechanics; cosmology; Boltzmann; entropy; reversibility
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Winsberg, E. Bumps on the Road to Here (from Eternity). Entropy 2012, 14, 390-406.

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