CFA: The Second Law of Thermodynamics, Munich, 1-2 Sep 2017

Munich Center For Mathematical Philosophy, LMU Munich
01-02 Sep 2017

The attempt to understand the Second Law of thermodynamics occupies a central role in the foundations of physics: not only is it of great importance in its own right, but it also ramifies into a host of other
problems of fundamental physical and philosophical import, from the
arrow of time and the nature of spacetime to issues of probability,
causality, predictability, and determinism, and even to the nature of
memory and agency. This will be the first major conference since the
1950s to address all foundational issues associated with the Second
Law, and to try to examine how they all bear on each other. Invited
physicists and philosophers will be chosen to represent issues
pertaining to the Second Law from many different fields in physics and
philosophy (classical thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, quantum
field theory, gravity), in an attempt to foster a dialogue among those
addressing problems associated with the Second Law in the different
fields. Such a gathering will spur new, innovative approaches to the
problem, as well as connecting and invigorating work on existing
approaches. It will also provide young researchers with a
comprehensive introduction to the state of the art of this central
field of research, and established researchers with a comprehensive

Specific questions we want the conference to address include (but are
not limited to):

1. What is the nature of the Second Law as a physical principle?

2. What connection, if any, does the Second Law have to the idea of
the arrow (or arrows) of time?

3. Can the Second Law be derived from statistical mechanics?

4. What is the nature of entropy as a physical quantity?

5. How does the Second Law bear on the possibility of prediction and
retrodiction, and on approaches to a proper understanding of
causality, modality, and probability?

6. How does the Second Law bear on the ideas of memory and agency?

7. What can we learn from the historical treatment of the Second Law?

8. What role, if any, can the Second Law have in quantum theory? Does
the proper analysis of the Second Law require quantum mechanics?

9. Given the centrality of black-hole thermodynamics in contemporary
theoretical physics, how ought we to understand the claim that black
holes are thermodynamical objects, and what may that tell us about the
nature of spacetime?



We invite the submission of paper abstracts for the conference.
Abstracts should include a title, a brief abstract (up to 200 words),
and a full abstract (up to 1000 words), blinded for peer review. They
should be PDF files, submitted to the conference’s EasyChair account
( We will select 4
submissions for presentation at the conference.


We plan to publish the proceedings of the conference as a special
issue of a leading journal (e.g., *Foundations of Physics*).

Depending on the funding situation, it is likely that the conference
organizers will be able to partly subsidize the traveling and
accommodation costs for those whose submitted abstracts are accepted,
or even to cover all costs. This will be determined by the end of the

We are committed to fostering diversity and equality in our programs.
Submissions from underrepresented groups are particularly welcome. The
conference will be organized and run under the MCMP’s code of conduct



* Alison Fernandes (Pitt/Warwick)
* Robert Geroch (Chicago)
* Giovanni Valente (Pitt/MCMP, LMU Munich)
* Aron Wall (Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton/Stanford)
* David Wallace (University of Southern California)
* Charlotte Werndl (Salzburg)



Please send registration requests by 15 Aug 2017 to the co-organizer
Neil Dewar ( The email should have
the subject: “register second law” and contain your name and
affiliation as you would like it to appear on your conference
name-tag. Also please indicate whether you plan to attend the
conference dinner (01 Sep, 2017). The fees for the conference and
dinner are as follows.

Senior researchers with permanent positions (associate and full
professors, etc.): conference fee EUR 30; dinner EUR 35

Junior researchers (assistant professors, post-docs, etc.): conference
fee EUR 15; dinner EUR 25

Students (masters, doctoral, etc.): no conference fee; dinner EUR 15



Craig Callender (UCSD), Erik Curiel (MCMP, LMU Munich), Neil Dewar
(MCMP, LMU Munich), Alison Fernandes (Pitt/Warwick), Robert Geroch
(Chicago), Leah Henderson (Groningen), Patricia Palacios (MCMP, LMU
Munich), Jos Uffink (Minnesota), Giovanni Valente (Pitt/MCMP, LMU
Munich), Aron Wall (Institute for Advanced Studies,
Princeton/Stanford), David Wallace (University of Southern
California), Charlotte Werndl (Salzburg)


Please direct any inquiry to the co-organizers: Erik Curiel
( and Neil Dewar (


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Filed under Calls for Abstracts/Papers/Contributions, Conference announcements/CFPs, wuthrich

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