Is the maximum entropy production just a heuristic principle? Metaphysics on natural determination
Maximum entropy production principle
Interpretation of variational principles
Relationship between heuristics and ontology
Informational and thermodynamic entropy
Physical and formal causality
Epistemic and ontological emergence
Issue Date: 
Sánchez-Cañizares, J. (Javier). "Is the maximum entropy production just a heuristic principle? Metaphysics on natural determination". Synthese. 201, 2023, 121
The Maximum Entropy Production Principle (MEPP) stands out as an overarch- ing principle that rules life phenomena in Nature. However, its explanatory power beyond heuristics remains controversial. On the one hand, the MEPP has been successfully applied principally to non-living systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium. On the other hand, the underlying assumptions to lay the MEPP¿s theoretical foundations and range of applicability increase the possibilities of conflicting interpretations. More interestingly, from a metaphysical stance, the MEPP¿s philosophical status is hotly debated: does the MEPP passively translate physical information into macroscopic predictions or actively select the physical solution in multistable systems, granting the connection between scientific models and reality? This paper deals directly with this dilemma by discussing natural determination from three angles: (1) Heuristics help natural philosophers to build an ontology. (2) The MEPP¿s ontological status may stem from its selection of new forms of causation beyond physicalism. (3) The MEPP¿s ontology ultimately depends on the much-discussed question of the ontology of probabilities in an information-theoretic approach and the ontology of macrostates according to the Boltzmannian definition of entropy.

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