Journal Article

Fried Eggs, Thermodynamics, and the Special Sciences

Jeffrey Dunn

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 1, pages 71-98
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Fried Eggs, Thermodynamics, and the Special Sciences

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David Lewis ([1986b]) gives an attractive and familiar account of counterfactual dependence in the standard context. This account has recently been subject to a counterexample from Adam Elga ([2000]). In this article, I formulate a Lewisian response to Elga’s counterexample. The strategy is to add an extra criterion to Lewis’s similarity metric, which determines the comparative similarity of worlds. This extra criterion instructs us to take special science laws into consideration as well as fundamental laws. I argue that the Second Law of Thermodynamics should be seen as a special science law, and give a brief account of what Lewisian special science laws should look like. If successful, this proposal blocks Elga’s counterexample.

1 Introduction

2 The Asymmetry of Miracles and Overdetermination

3 Elga’s Counterexample

4 Possible Solutions

5 Structure of the Special Science Solution

6 The Special Science Solution

6.1 Thermodynamics as a Special Science

6.2 Lewisian Special Science Laws

7 Objections

8 Conclusion

Journal Article.  13302 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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