Maxwell's Paradox: The Metaphysics of Classical Electrodynamics and its Time Reversal Invariance

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Valia Allori
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n this paper, I argue that the recent discussion on the time-reversal invariance of classical electrodynamics (see (Albert 2000: ch.1), (Arntzenius 2004), (Earman 2002), (Malament 2004),(Horwich 1987: ch.3)) can be best understood assuming that the disagreement among the various authors is actually a disagreement about the metaphysics of classical electrodynamics. If so, the controversy will not be resolved until we have established which alternative is the most natural. It turns out that we have a paradox, namely that the following three claims are incompatible: the electromagnetic fields are real, classical electrodynamics is time-reversal invariant, and the content of the state of affairs of the world does not depend on whether it belongs to a forward or a backward sequence of states of the world.

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