Counterfactuals, dispositions, and conscious experience : essays on entropy
Author(s)Elga, Adam Newman, 1974-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
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Chapter 1 of this thesis concerns counterfactual conditionals. David Lewis has offered a natural and influential analysis of counterfactuals. But the analysis fails to take into account the asymmetry of entropy, and comes to grief precisely because of that failure. The cause of the grief is that processes involving the increase of entropy are exceedingly sensitive to small changes in their final conditions. Chapter 2 concerns robust dispositions. Drop an ordinary rock into hydrofluoric acid, and-almost no matter what is going on far away--it will dissolve. In other words, the rock displays a disposition to dissolve that is robust with respect to small variations in its environment. Why is it that so many objects display robust dispositions to melt, cool down, explode, hatch, and so on? Because entropy increases over time. Chapter 3 concerns conscious experience. Take any world with fundamental dynamical laws rather like ours, but in which entropy doesn't increase. Take any system in that world that changes state by changing thermodynamically. That system has no experiences whatsoever. That's because (in such worlds), in order to have an experience it is necessary to display certain robust dispositions. And such systems fail to display the requisite dispositions.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (p. 79-81).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Philosophy.