Do Time-Asymmetric Laws call for Time-Asymmetric Spacetime Structure?

Open access

Abstract

Many philosophers of physics take the failure of the laws of physics to be invariant under the time reversal transformation to give us good reason to think that spacetime is temporally anisotropic, yet the details of this inference are rarely made explicit. I discuss two reasonable ways of filling in the details of this inference, the first of which utilizes a symmetry principle proposed by John Earman and the second of which utilizes Harvey Brown’s account of spacetime. I contend that neither of the resulting arguments is sound.

Abe, K. et al. 2001. Observation of large CP violation in the neutral B meson system. Physical Review Letters 87.

Arntzenius, F. 1995. Indeterminism and the direction of time. Topoi 14: 67–81.

Arntzenius, F. 1997. Mirrors and the direction of time. Philosophy of Science 64: S213–S222.

Arntzenius, F. 2004. Time reversal operations, representations of the Lorentz group, and the direction of time. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 35: 31–43.

Balashov, Y. and Janssen, M. 2003. Presentism and relativity. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54: 327–346.

Brown, H. 2005. Physical Relativity: Space-Time Structure From A Dynamical Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brown, H. and Pooley, O. 2006. Minkowski space-time: a glorious non-entity. In The Ontology of Spacetime. Cambridge: Elsevier.

Earman, J. 1974. An attempt to add a little direction to “the problem of the direction of time”. Philosophy of Science 41: 15–47.

Earman, J. 1989. World Enough and Space-Time: Absolute versus Relational Theories of Space and Time. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Friedman, M. 1983. Foundations of Space-Time Theories. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Frisch, M. 2011. Principle or constructive relativity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42: 176–183.

Horwich, P. 1987. Asymmetries in Time: Problems in the Philosophy of Science. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Janssen, M. 2009. Drawing the line between kinematics and dynamics in special relativity. Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40: 26–52.

Jansson, L. 2011. Explanation and dependence. PhD dissertation. The University of Michigan.

Lees, J. et. al. 2012. Observation of time-reversal violation in the B0 meson system. Physical Review Letters 109(21).

Maudlin, T. 2007. The Metaphysics Within Physics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Norton, J. 2008. Why constructive relativity fails. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59: 821–834.

Pooley, O. 2003. Handedness, parity violation, and the reality of space. In Symmetry in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sachs, R. 1987. The Physics of Time Reversal. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sklar, L. 1975. Methodological conservatism. The Philosophical Review 84: 374–400.

Streater, R., and A. Wightman. 1980. PCT, Spin, Statistics, and All That. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Tooley, M. 1977. The nature of laws. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7: 667–698.