Abstract

This paper argues against a standard view that all deterministic and conservative classical mechanical systems are time-reversible, by asking how the temporal evolution of a system modulates parametric imprecision (either ontological or epistemic). It notes that well-behaved systems (e.g. inertial motion) can possess a dynamics which is unstable enough to fail at reversing uncertainties—even though exact values are reliably reversed. A limited (but significant) source of irreversibility is thus displayed in classical mechanics, closely analogous the lack of predictability revealed by unstable chaotic systems.

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