Why Typicality Does Not Explain the Approach to Equilibrium

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Probabilities, Causes and Propensities in Physics (Mauricio Suárez (ed.)), Page: 77-93

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Frigg, Roman
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Why do systems prepared in a non-equilibrium state approach, and eventually reach, equilibrium? An important contemporary version of the Boltzmannian approach to statistical mechanics answers this question by an appeal to the notion of typicality. The problem with this approach is that it comes in different versions, which are, however, not recognised as such, much less clearly distinguished, and we often find different arguments pursued side by side. The aim of this paper is to disentangle different versions of typicality-based explanations of thermodynamic behaviour and evaluate their respective success. My conclusion will be that the boldest version fails for technical reasons, while more prudent versions leave unanswered essential questions.