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Statistical and causal concepts in Einstein's early thought

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Abstract:

Albert Einstein's attitude towards quantum mechanics—and statistical physics in general—was a puzzle to many of his contemporaries, and has remained a puzzle to the present. Though he made many significant contributions to statistical physics, he continually refused to regard that branch of science as fundamental. The present essay demonstrates that his attitude towards statistical physics was formed during his earliest investigations—between 1901 and 1903. In particular, it is shown that in Einstein's view, statistical laws are based upon non-statistical (causal) assumptions. This view influenced much of his later thinking. A few illustrations are offered, concluding with a discussion of his opposition to quantum mechanics.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00033798000200201

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, 02167, U.S.A.

Publication date: March 1, 1980

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