Statistical mechanics and the asymmetry of counterfactual dependence

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79 Scopus citations


In "Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow", David Lewis defends an analysis of counterfactuals intended to yield the asymmetry of counterfactual dependence: that later affairs depend counterfactually on earlier ones, and not the other way around. I argue that careful attention to the dynamical properties of thermodynamically irreversible processes shows that in many ordinary cases, Lewis's analysis fails to yield this asymmetry. Furthermore, the analysis fails in an instructive way: it teaches us something about the connection between the asymmetry of overdetermination and the asymmetry of entropy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S313-S324
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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