Tautological Status of the Second Law

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Is the second law a tautology, i.e. can it in principle be violated?

As any law, the second law attempts to forbid certain courses of action, for otherwise it would lack any empirical content and would be a tautology. However, it is not quite clear whether the law in its current formulation can be contradicted by any conceivable situation. So the question is whether the law is tautological or non-tautological, i.e. whether there are circumstances (perhaps the collapse of the society which contains the scientific community) under which the second law can in principle be violated?

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Rory Harder in 2013. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. The Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theory on the subject. The Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017) states "The second law is not a tautology."


Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this question (it includes all the instances when the question was accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by a community):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 January 2016This was when the community first accepted an answer to this question. The Second Law is a Tautology (Barseghyan-2015), which indicates that the question itself is legitimate.Yes

All Theories

The following theories have attempted to answer this question:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
The Second Law is a Tautology (Barseghyan-2015)The second law is a tautology.2015
The Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017)The second law is not a tautology.2017
If a theory on this descriptive question is missing, please click here to add it.

Accepted Theories

The following theories have been accepted as answers to this question:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyThe Second Law is a Tautology (Barseghyan-2015)1 January 201629 November 2017
ScientonomyThe Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017)29 November 2017

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this topic:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2017-0005Scientonomy5 February 2017Accept that the new second law is not a tautology.AcceptedThe modification was deemed uncontroversial by the community. Its acceptance was contingent upon the acceptance of the new formulation of the second law suggested by Patton, Overgaard and Barseghyan. Once the new second law became accepted, it was also accepted that the new law is not a tautology. There was no notable discussion concerning this modification.29 November 2017

Current View

In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is The Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017). It states: "The second law is not a tautology." The reformulation of the second law by Patton, Overgaard, and Barseghyan makes it explicit that the law is not a tautology as it clearly forbids certain logically conceivable courses of events.1pp. 33-34 Read More

Related Topics

This topic is a sub-topic of Mechanism of Theory Acceptance.


  1. ^  Patton, Paul; Overgaard, Nicholas and Barseghyan, Hakob. (2017) Reformulating the Second Law. Scientonomy 1, 29-39. Retrieved from https://www.scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/27158.


Hakob Barseghyan (11.2%), Jacob MacKinnon (88.8%)