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(2014) New directions in the philosophy of science, Dordrecht, Springer.

How fundamental physics represents causality

Andreas Bartels

pp. 485-500

Russell's dictum that there is no place for causality in fundamental physics (Russell B, On the notion of cause. Proc Aristotelian Soc 13:1–26, 1912/1913) has been revitalized in a recent debate (e.g. Price H, Corry R (eds) Causality, physics, and the constitution of reality: Russell's republic revisited. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). One of the main reasons Russell had for denying a genuine place for causality in physics was that the asymmetry of the causal relation has no counterpart in modern theories of physics because of the symmetry of determination relations as provided by fundamental equations. But there exists a further way of fundamental anchoring of causality. As we argue in our paper, despite the time-reversal invariance of fundamental laws it is possible that the solutions of those laws are typically time-asymmetric. In particular, it has been proven that almost all spacetimes that are solutions of the field equations of General Relativity and which allow for a universal "cosmic" time parameter and, furthermore, possess a matter field are time-asymmetric (Castagnino M, Lombardi O, Lara L. The global arrow of time as a geometrical property of the universe. Founda Phys 33(6):877–912, 2003b; Wohlfarth D. A new view of "fundamentality" for time asymmetries in modern physics. In: Proceedings of the EPSA 11 conference in Athens, October 2011: recent progress in philosophy of science: perspectives and foundational problems. Springer, New York, 2012). We show that this result provides a new resource for anchoring the causal asymmetry in physics and thus diminishes the need for epistemic or even anthropocentric foundations of causality.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-04382-1_34

Full citation:

Bartels, A. (2014)., How fundamental physics represents causality, in D. Dieks, S. Hartmann, T. Uebel, M. Weber & M. C. Galavotti (eds.), New directions in the philosophy of science, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 485-500.

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