Time and Chance .

David Albert has a real problem explaining himself- not just in this book, but in person when trying to teach the book. Everybody has noted the main problems with the book- the man cannot write his way out of a wet paper bag. And yet, he refuses to change or improve his writing (After reading the first exasperating chapter of a new book he is currently working on I realized some people cannot improve with practice). This is partly due to the fact that he writes like he thinks as if he is thinking out loud in a total stream of consciousness which he expects you to be experiencing as well. In fact he really does expect you to be having the same train of thought as him, as if his next sentence is the fulfillment of what you were already thinking. This is simply not the case. His methodology is to build up a theory as being true, then decimating it by pointing out what seem (to him) to be obvious and inherent absurdities, only to end up reasserting the theory as being actually true due to some caveat. Once you finish his mental acrobatics you find that the theory is correct according to Albert because it is trivially true. As has been said in most of these reviews, his writing tends to obscure the nature of his project so that one is not sure whether anything substantive has been said. So what is the book about anyways? Albert wants to show that statistical mechanics is an incomplete science that fails on its own. What it needs is a strong philosophical foundation with a metaphysical theory that validates its project. Albert's main problem with statistical mechanics is its untenable epistemology, it assumes its science as a priori and analytically true. This Albert rejects but he still thinks that statistical mechanics can get it right with the addition of a metaphysical theory- the Past-Hypothesis. Now while the Past-Hypothesis stands alone as a great contribution which makes Time and Chance an actual important work, it is not uncontroversial or unproblematic. Time and Chance stands and falls on the Past-Hypothesis and the philosophical explanatory power it provides for validating the statistical mechanic project and the laws of thermodynamics. But whether the Past-Hypothesis is true or not ends up becoming a moot point. You see, Albert is a neo-Humean and despite the fact that he writes with what seems to be a scientific realism, the Humean in him will not let that be the case. He is over awed by David Lewis and Humean Supervenience. So, at best, even though he seems sincerely dedicated to physics and philosophy, he ends all speculation with the caveat that at best these are all useful fictions. This seems to me very puzzling, given that his main criticism of statistical mechanics, sans the Past-Hypothesis, is on its epistemology. Statistical mechanics fails on a epistemic level without the metaphysical Past-Hypothesis to salvage it. And yet, the whole project of the book troubles Albert epistemically, as a neo-Humean, which is why, in the end, the actuality of his project (though presented as realist) is operationalist in that it allows humans to survive in an evolutionary sense but only as a tool peculiar to our phenomenology given our poor epistemic state of affairs, that is, it's all a useful fiction for survival: explanatory it may be but it is still a fiction. That said there is still the novelty of the Past-Hypothesis, which deserves critical attention. It is for that reason that you should buy this book. It helps to reread it several times from which you come away with another understanding of Albert's methodological mess every time, which in turn lends itself to a greater appreciation of this book's importance.

Authors: me and Chance By David Z Albert

Date: 2003

Upload Date: 11/18/2020 1:36:44 PM

Format: PDF

Pages: 1



Language: English

ISBN / ASIN: 0674011325


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