By G.H. von Wright
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Additional resources for Causality and Determinism
Burbury's great contribution to the discussion of the H-Theorem in the 1890s was to put his finger on the time-asymmetric assumption in question. It is the famous 'assumption of molecular chaos', or the 37 Huw Price stofizahlansatz—roughly, the principle that the velocities of interacting molecules are independent before they collide. As we shall see in a moment, it was Burbury who pointed out why the corresponding condition could not be expected to hold after collisions. My discussion of these initial randomness approaches is in two parts.
From the latter fact, a second application of the H-Theorem, and modus tollens, we may infer that Assumption A does not obtain at the end of the time interval. Note the crucial role of the assumption of initial nonequilibrium. Far from revealing a general tendency for correlations to accumulate as a result of collisions, the BEE argument turns on nothing more than this: Assumption A fails in the reverse motion because entropy was low in the past. Not only is this not a result of interactions; it seems independent of whether there actually are any interactions!
Ii) The ceteris paribus strategy. The second approach takes the Boltzmann probabilities to be merely 'default' expectation values, to be used in the absence of overriding factors—and the past low entropy boundary condition, as yet not fully understood, seems 4 The closest Boltzmann seems to come to making this anthropic proposal explicit is in his (1895, 415). I am grateful to Jos Uffink for pointing out to me that it is not nearly as obvious that Boltzmann actually had this point in mind as tradition has tended to assume.
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