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Newcomen engine In 1824, Sadi Carnot proposed the strange, internally contradictory notion of a thermodynamically reversible process as the most efficient in the context of dissipative heat engines. They are analogous to the reversible geometrical movements that his father, Lazare, had earlier found to be the most efficient in ordinary, mechanically dissipative machines. "How Analogy Helped Create the New Science of Thermodynamics" Synthese. 200 (2022), article 269, pp. 1-42. Download.
a round square
I develop a deflationary, empiricist account of possibility and argue that other accounts of possibility, notably metaphysical possibility, fail, in so far as they seek to go beyond the empiricist notion.

The figure at left is the realization of a metaphysically impossible round square ABCD in spherical geometry.
"How to Make Possibility Safe for Empiricists." pp. 129-159 in Rethinking the Concept of Laws of Nature: Natural order in the Light of Contemporary Science. ed. Yemima Ben-Menahem. Springer, 2022. Download.
Lottery ticket fragment
Matt Parker and I disagree on whether a multiple of four is less likely than an even number in a drawing from an infinite lottery.
"An Infinite Lottery Paradox" Axiomathes 32, supplement issue 1 (2022), (Special Issue Epistemologia 2022), pp. 1-6. Download.
Material Theory book
A special issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science is on the material theory of induction and has 14 papers. Here are my responses to those papers. "Author's Responses," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 85 (2021), pp. 114–126. Download.
NGC_4319 In 1972, astronomers John N, Bahcall and Halton Arp debated at the AAAS whether galactic redshifts resulted from a recession of the galaxies. The material theory of induction is used to reveal and assess their competing inductive inferences. "Inductive Inferences on Galactic Redshift, Understood Materially." Ch. 9, pp. 227-246, in C. Soto (ed.), Current Debates in Philosophy of Science, Synthese Library 477. Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2023. Download
electric experiment Metaphysicians believe that they have uncovered a deep truth about how things must connect in the world, antecedent to all science: the principle of causality. They are mistaken. "How Not to Think About Causation." Filozofuj! 2019, No.3, pp. 16-18. Read in Polish or English.
Phase space fragment Landauer's principle mistakenly associates thermodynamic entropy creation in a computing device with the logic of the computation implemented. The mistake derives from a neglect of the dynamical character of the probability W in Boltzmann's celebrated "S = k ln W." "A Hot Mess," Inference: International Review of Science. Vol. 4, Issue 3. Download
Dial fragment All efforts to design an infinite lottery machine using ordinary probabilistic randomizers fail. This failure is not a result of a lack of imagination in design. It is assured by a familiar problem in set theory: we know no way to construct probabilistically nonmeasurable sets. "How NOT to Build an Infinite Lottery Machine." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science82(2020), pp. 1-8. Download
Ready for a little light entertainment? What happens if one asks whether an infinite tower of turtles could overcome gravity and support the world? What happens if we ask if there is some mechanism in ordinary Newtonian mechanics that would let a castle float in the air. "Turtles all the way down."

Castles in the air.
Einstein insisted that his principle of equivalence was a founding heuristic for his general theory of relativity. However this principle was in tension with his theory of 1912 and flatly contradicted by his theory of 1913. Instead conservation of energy and momentum provided a pathway to unique gravitational field equations in both theories. "Einstein’s Conflicting Heuristics: The Discovery of General Relativity," pp. 17-48 in Thinking about Space and Time: 100 Years of Applying and Interpreting General Relativity. Einstein Studies, Volume 15. C. Beisbart, T. Sauer, C. Wüthrich (eds). Cham, Switzerland: Birhäuser/Springer Nature, 2020. Download.
Stacked Galaxies The measure problem in eternal inflationary cosmology arises because we try to force a probability distribution where it is not warranted. The problem is solved by asking which inductive logic is picked out by the background conditions. That logic is the same highly non-additive inductive logic as applies to an infinite lottery. "Eternal Inflation: When Probabilities Fail,"Synthese 198 (Suppl 16) (2021), S3853-3875. Download.
jumping flea An infinite lottery machines chooses without favor among a countable infinity of outcomes. This sort of selection creates well-known problems for probability theory. But is it really physically possible to construct such a machine?. "How to Build an Infinite Lottery Machine" 8 (2018), pp. 71-95.
(with Alexander R. Pruss) Correction to John D. Norton “How to Build an Infinite Lottery Machine, ” European Journal for Philosophy of Science. 8 (2018), pp. 143-44.
Punch Narrative conventions in a thought experiment allow thought experimenters great latitude in deciding which processes are typical and bear generalization and which can be idealized away as incidental. Misuse of this latitude has allowed one particular thought experiment to be responsible for many decades of confused science. "The Worst Thought Experiment," The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments. Eds. Michael T. Stuart, James Robert Brown, and Yiftach Fehige. London: Routledge, 2018. pp. 454-68. Download.
Our urge to oversimplify has led to many myths about what powered Einstein's discoveries. Naive thinking? Capricious rule-breaking? Operational thinking? I correct some myths and try to give a more accurate picture of how Einstein made two discoveries: special relativity and the light quantum. "How Einstein Did Not Discover," Physics in Perspective, 18 (2016), pp. 249-282. Download.
The received view is that a Maxwell's demon must fail to reverse the second law of thermodynamics for reasons to do with information and computation. This received view has failed, I argue, and our continuing preoccupation with it has distracted us from a simpler and more secure exorcism that merely uses the Liouville theorem of statistical physics. I extend this exorcism to the quantum case. "Maxwell's Demon Does not Compute." In Michael E. Cuffaro and Samuel C. Fletcher, eds., Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2018. pp. 240-256. Download.
non equilibrium space The idea of a thermodynamically reversible process is central to thermodynamics. Yet essentially all descriptions of them over nearly two centuries are internally contradictory. They consist of equilibrium states, which are by definition unchanging in time; yet still they still change in time. I review the history and offer a solution. "The Impossible Process: Thermodynamic Reversibility," Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 55(2016), pp. 43-61. Download
Brownian fragment Thermodynamically reversible processes cannot be completed in systems at molecular scales. They are fatally disrupted by fluctuations. This paper reviews the general result and computes two cases in detail. "Thermodynamically Reversible Processes in Statistical Physics." American Journal of Physics, 85 (2017), pp. 135-145. Download.
mona lisa Non-trivial calculi of inductive inference are shown to be incomplete. That is, it is impossible for a calculus of inductive inference to capture all inductive truths in some domain, no matter how large, without resorting to inductive content drawn from outside that domain. Hence inductive inference cannot be characterized merely as inference that conforms with some specified calculus. "A Demonstration of the Incompleteness of Calculi of Inductive Inference" British Journal for the Philosophy of Science,  70 (2019), pp. 1119–1144. Download.

"The Ideal of the Completeness of Calculi of Inductive Inference: An Introductory Guide to its Failure" Draft
Michelson interferometer The replicability of experiment, the gold standard of evidence, is not supported by a universal principle of replicability in inductive logic. A failure of replication may not impugn a credible experimental result; and a successful replication can fail to vindicate an incredible experimental result.The evidential import of successful replication of an experiment is determined by the prevailing background facts. Their success has fostered the illusion of a deeper, exceptionless principle. "Replicability of Experiment," Theoria, 30(No. 2) (2015), pp. 229-248. Download.
1, 3, 5, 7, ... ? Standard accounts of inductive inference are unstable, meriting skeptical attack. They have misidentified its fundamental nature. Accounts of inductive inference should not be modeled on those of deductive inference that are formal and non-contextual. Accounts of inductive inference should be contextual and material. I summarize the case for a material theory of induction. "A Material Defense of Inductive Inference." Download.
Galileo triangle The inductive problem of extending the sequence 1, 3, 5, 7, is solved when these numbers are the ratios of the incremental distances fallen in successive unit times. The controlling fact is Galileo's assumption that these ratios are invariant under a change of the unit of time. It admits few laws and only one is compatible with the two-numbered initial sequence 1, 3. "Invariance of Galileo's Law of Fall under a Change of the Unit of Time." Download.
Fall in a gravitational field Curie's principle asserts that every symmetry of a cause manifests as a symmetry of the effect. It can be formulated as a tautology that is vacuous until it is instantiated. However instantiation requires us to know the correct way to map causal terminology onto the terms of a science. Causal metaphysics has failed to provide a unique, correct way to carry out the mapping. Thus successful or unsuccessful instantiation merely reflects our freedom of choice in the mapping. "Curie's Truism." Philosophy of Science, 83(2016), pp. 1014-1026. Download.
Dipole measurement The most successful exorcism of Maxwell’s demon is Smoluchowski’s 1912 observation that thermal fluctuations would likely disrupt the operation of any molecular scale demonic machine. Information-theoretic exorcisms fail since these same thermal fluctuations invalidate the molecular scale manipulations upon which the thermodynamics of computation is based. A new argument concerning conservation of phase space volume shows that all Maxwell’s demons must fail. "All Shook Up: Fluctuations, Maxwell's Demon and the Thermodynamics of Computation." Entropy, 2013, 15, pp. 4432-4483. Download.

For a short extension of the exorcism to quantum theory, see ""The Simplest Exorcism of Maxwell's Demon: The Quantum Version." Download.
Brownian computation Brownian computers are supposed to illustrate how logically reversible mathematical operations can be computed by physical processes that are thermodynamically reversible or nearly so. In fact, they are thermodynamically irreversible processes that are the analog of an uncontrolled expansion of a gas into a vacuum. "Brownian Computation is Thermodynamically Irreversible." Foundations of Physics. 43 (2013), pp 1384-1410. Download.

"On Brownian Computation" International Journal of Modern Physics: Conference Series. 33 (2014), pp. 1460366-1 to 1460366-6.download.
Tower and Arch

In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that the celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved.

"A Material Dissolution of the Problem of Induction." Synthese, Synthese. 191 (2014), pp. 671-690. Download.
burning fuse In the burning fuse model of unbecoming in time, the future is real and the past is unreal. It is used to motivate the idea that there is something unbecoming in the present literature on the metaphysics of time: its focus is merely the assigning of a label “real.” "The Burning Fuse Model of Unbecoming in Time." Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. Forthcoming.
roulette wheel detail We argue that Monte Carlo simulations open no new epistemic channels beyond that already employed by traditional simulations: the inference by ordinary argumentation of conclusions from assumptions built into the simulations. "Why Monte Carlo Simulations Are Inferences and Not Experiments," (with Claus Beisbart) International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (No. 4, December 2012), pp. 403-422. Download.
Rng flow Are phase transitions a banner instance of emergence or treated reductively by renormalization group methods? The answer depends on how you define levels between which the relations of reduction and emergence obtain. "Confusions over Reduction and Emergence in the Physics of Phase Transitions" in Goodies.
Time cover Modern writers often endow Einstein with a 21st century prescience about physical theory that, it just so happens, is only now vindicated by the latest results of the same writers' research. There is a second side to Einstein. His outlook and methods were clearly rooted in 19th century physics and a sense in which his work fulfills the discoveries of the 19th century. "Einstein as the Greatest of the Nineteenth Century Physicists," pp. 142-51 in Proceedings, Seventh Quadrennial Fellows Conference of the Center for Philosophy of Science (12-14 June 2012; Mugla, Turkey).
gas molecules 1. Approximations of arbitrarily large but finite systems are often mistaken for infinite idealizations in statistical and thermal physics. The problem is illustrated by thermodynamically reversible processes.

2. Whether phase transitions comprise a failure of reduction is confounded by a confusion of two senses of "level": the molecular versus the thermodynamic level and the few component versus the many component level.
"Infinite Idealizations,"European Philosophy of Science--Philosophy of Science in Europe and the Viennese Heritage: Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook, Vol. 17 (Springer: Dordrecht-Heidelberg-London-New York), pp. 197-210. Download.
halftone printing This paper proposes that idealizations are distinguished from approximations in that only idealizations involve novel reference. This difference is important when idealizations are created by taking infinite limits such as in statistical mechanics. For these infinite limits may have very strange properties, much odder than the discontinuities of phase transitions now widely acknowledged in the literature. "Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters" Philosophy of Science, 79 (2012), pp. 207-232. Download.
compression Entropy creation in excess of that tracked by Landauer's principle is needed to overcome fluctuations in molecular scale computation. This paper is a short account of the "no go" result reported in "Waiting for Landauer." "The End of the Thermodynamics of Computation: A No Go Result."Philosophy of Science. 80, (2013), pp. 1182-1192. Download.
light At the age of sixteen, Einstein imagined chasing after a beam of light. He later recalled that the thought experiment had played a memorable role in his development of special relativity. Famous as it is, it has proven difficult to understand just how the thought experiment delivers its results. It fails to generate problems for an ether-based electrodynamics. I propose that Einstein’s canonical statement of the thought experiment from his 1946 “Autobiographical Notes,” makes most sense not as an argument against ether-based electrodynamics, but as an argument against “emission” theories of light. "Chasing the Light: Einstein's Most Famous Thought Experiment," Thought Experiments in Philosophy, Science and the Arts, eds., James Robert Brown, Mélanie Frappier and Letitia Meynell, New York: Routledge, 2013. pp. 123-140.Download.

Galileo fall Galileo's refutation of the speed-distance law of fall in his Two New Sciences is routinely dismissed as a moment of confused argumentation. We urge that Galileo's argument correctly identified why the speed-distance law is untenable, failing only in its very last step. Using an ingenious combination of scaling and self-similarity arguments, Galileo found correctly that bodies, falling from rest according to this law, fall all distances in equal times. What he failed to recognize in the last step is that this time is infinite, the result of an exponential dependence of distance on time. Instead, Galileo conflated it with the other motion that satisfies this 'equal time' property, instantaneous motion. "Galileo's Refutation of the Speed-Distance Law of Fall Rehabilitated," (with Bryan Roberts) Centaurus.54 (2012) pp. 148-164. Download.

"The Scaling of Speeds and Distances in Galileo's Two New Sciences: A Reply to Palmerino and Laird," (with Bryan Roberts) Centaurus, 54 (2012) pp. 182-191. Download.
philosophy in Einstein Albert Einstein read philosophy. It was not an affectation of a celebrity-physicist trying to show his adoring public that he was no mere technician, but a cultured thinker. It was an interest in evidence from the start. I review some ways in which his philosophical interests intersected with his science. “Philosophy in Einstein’s Science," Alternatives to Materialist Philosophies of Science, Philip MacEwen, ed., The Mellen Press. Download.
infinitesimal spacetime This chapter presents an opinionated assessment of what we can learn about the ontology of space and time from the special and general theories of relativity. “What Can We Learn about the Ontology of Space and Time from the Theory of Relativity?” L. Sklar (ed.), Physical Theory: Method and Interpretation, Oxford University Press. Download
IMAGEreference Contrary to the incommensurability thesis, I argue that the referents of theoretical terms can remain stable under theory change, if they are associated with “sparse meaning spaces.” In them, reference is error tolerant, for there are no alternatives in the neighborhood to which terms in altered descriptions can shift their reference. "Dense and Sparse Meaning Spaces: Comments on Travis Norsen, 'Scientific Cumulativity and Conceptual Change: The Case of Temperature.'" in Richard M. Burian and Allan Gotthelf, eds., Concepts, Induction, and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge, forthcoming.Download
vvvsailing If you like sailing and philosophy, this is for you. Perplexing paradoxes, causal conundra and tantalizing thought experiments.

“Paradoxes of Sailing," Ch. 13, pp.148-63, in Sailing: Philosophy for Everyone. Patrick A. Goold, Ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Download.

For river sailing without philosophy, see Sailing at the Point.