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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

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James Symposium
 
Edward P. Culverwell

Edward P. Culverwell was one of a number of British scientists who criticized the H-Theorem of Ludwig Boltzmann, which was widely believed to have shown that the entropy in an isolated system can only increase to a maximum. Boltzmann's quantity H is the opposite of entropy (in modern terms it is the negentropy or information).

Boltzmann at first (1872) claimed to have shown that his "minimum function" H (he actually used the German letter "E" which in resembles the English "H") could be shown to decrease to a minimum as a consequence of the dynamic evolution of a gas of colliding particles. Boltzmann counted the number of particles that would leave a small volume of phase space as a result of collisions and compared it to the number of particles that would enter the same volume. This was called the Stosszahlansatz (collision number estimate).

Already in the 1870's William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and Josef Loschmidt had criticized this dynamical derivation on the grounds that if all the velocities of the particle were reversed the H function would increase (entropy would decrease). And Boltzmann had agreed with them, saying in 1877 that the only proper derivation of the H-Theorem is statistical. Systems would evolve toward macrostates with the greatest probability (the greatest number of microstates). Boltzmann's definition of entropy is proportional to the logarithm if the number of microstates W.

S = k logW

The proportionality factor k was introduced by Max Planck in 1900. He called it Boltzmann's constant.

The British scientists argued that there must be something causing "molecular disorder" or chaos that is introducing the irreversibility. Culverwell suggested it might be caused by the ether that was the presumed medium for electromagnetic waves. In 1890 he wrote:

We know that by means of the aether, bodies at a distance and wholly prevented from acting on each other molecularly, come to exactly the same temperature-equilibrium without any assistance from their collisions. Hence there is every reason to suppose that it is by the molecules interacting through the aether that the temperature-equilibrium is determined.

Then in 1894 he argued that something must be preventing the reversibility, since a dynamical analysis leads to perfect reversibility.

The remarkable differences of opinion as to what the H-theorem is, and how it can be proved, show how necessary is the discussion elicited by my letter...

I say that if that proof does not somewhere or other introduce some assumption about averages, probability, or irreversibility, it cannot be valid.

Culverwell's colleague S. H. Burbury used the terms "haphazard" and "chaos" to describe what is needed.

The objection that I understand to be made is that if you reverse all the velocities after collisions, the system will retrace its course with H increasing - which is supposed to be contrary to the thing proved...

I think the answer to this would be that any actual material system receives disturbances from without, the effect of which, coming at haphazard, is to produce the very distribution of coordinates which is required to make H diminish.

Sir James Jeans in 1903 agreed with Culverwell and Burbury that interaction with radiation could be dissipative and change the physics of Boltzmann's conservative dynamical system.
In the first place the distribution of energy which is given by Boltzmann's Theorem is the only distribution which is permanent under the conditions postulated by this theorem. And in the second place, this law of distribution may break down entirely as soon as we admit an interaction, no matter how small, between the molecules and the surrounding ether. That such an interaction must exist is shown by the fact that a gas is capable of radiating energy. In fact, Boltzmann's Theorem rests on the assumption that the molecules of a gas form a conservative dynamical system, and it will appear that the introduction of a small dissipation function may entirely invalidate the conclusions of the theorem.* Thus we may regard the Boltzmann distribution as unstable, in the sense that a slight deviation from perfect conservation of energy may result in a complete redistribution of the total energy.
Boltzmann largely ignored the suggestions of the British physicists, ignoring the idea of randomizing radiation interactions, arguing instead that the mean free paths of particles in a dilute gas would allow the molecules to escape to distant parts of the gas, leaving behind any correlations (molecular order) with recent collisions. For Boltzmann, molecular disorder is a statistical condition, not a dynamic process whereby molecular paths are made haphazard and thus irreversible.
If the mean free path in a gas is large compared to the mean distance of two neighboring molecules, then in a short time, completely different molecules than before will be nearest neighbors to each other. A molecular-ordered but molar-disordered distribution will most probably be transformed into a molecular-disordered one in a short time. Each molecule flies from one collision to another one so far away that one can consider the occurrence of another molecule, at the place where it collides the second time, with a definite state of motion, as being an event completely independent (for statistical calculations) of the place from which the first molecule came (and similarly for the state of motion of the first molecule). However, if we choose the initial configuration on the basis of a previous calculation of the path of each molecule, so as to violate intentionally the laws of probability, then of course we can construct a persistent regularity or an almost molecular-disordered distribution which will become an molecular-ordered at a particular time. Kirchhoff also makes the assumption that the state is molecular-disordered in his definition of the probability concept.

Boltzmann was confident that probability played the major role and he prophetically described a future physics of "average values," eerily anticipating the "expectation values" of probabilistic indeterministic quantum physics.

Since today it is popular to look forward to the time when our view of nature will have been completely changed, I will mention the possibility that the fundamental equations for the motion of individual molecules will turn out to be only approximate formulas which give average values, resulting according to the probability calculus from the interactions of many independent moving entities forming the surrounding medium - as for example in meteorology the laws are valid only for average values obtained by long series of observations using the probability calculus. These entities must of course be so numerous and must act so rapidly that the correct average values are attained in millionths of a second.

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