The Origins of Time-Asymmetry in Thermodynamics: The Minus First Law

Harvey R. Brown, Jos Uffink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


This paper investigates what the source of time asymmetry is in thermodynamics, and comments on the question whether a time-symmetric formulation of the Second Law is possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-538
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Yemima Ben-Menahem and Itamar Pitowsky for their kind invitation to and hospitality during the May 2000 International Workshop in Jerusalem. We also thank Julian Barbour for providing the 1897a Boltzmann reference, and Jeremy Butterfield for detailed suggestions towards improving presentation. HRB thanks Michael Lockwood for useful discussions, and gratefully acknowledges the support of the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust.


  • Entropy
  • Second law
  • Statistical mechanics
  • Thermodynamics


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