2.73 Thermodynamics

Category: Philosophy of Science

Keywords: entropy, systems, phase, dynamical, system, equilibrium, stability, dynamics, macroscopic, initial, stable, gas, temperature, scale, micro

Number of Articles: 174
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 83rd

Weighted Number of Articles: 229.5
Percentage of Total: 0.7%
Rank: 72nd

Mean Publication Year: 1989.7
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1978.2
Median Publication Year: 1998
Modal Publication Year: 2011

Topic with Most Overlap: Quantum Physics (0.0458)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Models (0.0297)
Topic with Least Overlap: Kant (0.00023)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Abortion and Self-Defence (0.00072)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the thermodynamicstopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 2011 when 1.8% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1883 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.73 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.169: Thermodynamics.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Thermodynamicstopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.4%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.3%. Ethics - 0.3%. Philosophical Review - 0.3%. Analysis - 0.3%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.2%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.6%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.3%. Philosophy of Science - 2.3%. Noûs - 0.5%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 0.2%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 2.1%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1955 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 1.2% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1883 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.170: Thermodynamics articles in each journal.

Table 2.181: Characteristic articles of the thermodynamics topic.
Table 2.182: Highly cited articles in the thermodynamics topic.


The story of philosophy of science over the past several decades was one of increasing specialization. First work on philosophy of science as a general category was replaced by work in the separate sciences, especially physics and biology. As I’ll discuss in chapter 5, the model thinks of work in philosophy of physics and philosophy of biology as having less in common with each other than they have with other areas of philosophy.

The existence of this topic is a sign of yet more specialization in recent years. The model sees work on thermodynamics as separate from other work in philosophy of physics. And this is separate from work on space and time, and from work on quantum mechanics.

It also is the first topic that has a fairly unambiguous upward trajectory through 2013. A lot of topics I’ve discussed recently, and indeed several I’ll discuss in the next few sections, felt like they had reached a plateau that they were still holding into 2013. But this looks to me like it’s going up. It will be interesting to look back in a few years and see if that’s still the case.