Typicality and the Approach to Equilibrium in Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics

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Frigg, Roman
preprint description
Why do systems prepared in a non-equilibrium state approach, and eventually reach, equilibrium? An important contemporary version of the Boltzmannian approach answers this question by an appeal to the notion of typicality. This approach has grown increasingly popular in recent years, and it has been advocated, among others, by Goldstein, Lebowitz, and Zangh`ı. The problem with this approach is that it comes in different versions, which are, however, not recognised as such, much less clearly distinguished. Weoften 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.