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Explaining thermodynamic-like behaviour in terms of epsilon-ergodicity

Frigg, Roman and Werndl, Charlotte (2011) Explaining thermodynamic-like behaviour in terms of epsilon-ergodicity. Philosophy of Science, 78 (4). pp. 328-352. ISSN 0031-8248

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Identification Number: 10.1086/661567


Why do gases reach equilibrium when left to themselves? The canonical answer, originally proffered by Boltzmann, is that the systems have to be ergodic. This answer is now widely regarded as flawed. We argue that some of the main objections in particular arguments based on the Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser theorem and the Markus-Meyer theorem are beside the point. We then argue that something close to Boltzmann’s proposal is true: gases behave thermodynamic-like if they are epsilon-ergodic, that is, ergodic on the phase space except for a small region of measure epsilon. This answer is promising because there is evidence that relevant systems are epsilon-ergodic.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 Philosophy of Science Association
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
Sets: Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Research centres and groups > Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS)
Date Deposited: 19 May 2011 14:11
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 01:29

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