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Three proposals regarding a theory of chance
Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):281–307 (2005)
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Early work on the frequency theory of probability made extensive use of the notion of randomness, conceived of as a property possessed by disorderly collections of outcomes. Growing out of this work, a rich mathematical literature on algorithmic randomness and Kolmogorov complexity developed through the twentieth century, but largely lost contact with the philosophical literature on physical probability. The present chapter begins with a clarification of the notions of randomness and probability, conceiving of the former as a property of a (...) 

This paper examines three accounts of the sleeping beauty case: an account proposed by Adam Elga, an account proposed by David Lewis, and a third account defended in this paper. It provides two reasons for preferring the third account. First, this account does a good job of capturing the temporal continuity of our beliefs, while the accounts favored by Elga and Lewis do not. Second, Elga’s and Lewis’ treatments of the sleeping beauty case lead to highly counterintuitive consequences. The proposed (...) 

This pair of articles provides a critical commentary on contemporary approaches to statistical mechanical probabilities. These articles focus on the two ways of understanding these probabilities that have received the most attention in the recent literature: the epistemic indifference approach, and the Lewisstyle regularity approach. These articles describe these approaches, highlight the main points of contention, and make some attempts to advance the discussion. The second of these articles discusses the regularity approach to statistical mechanical probabilities, and describes some areas (...) 

The most familiar philosophical conception of objective chance renders determinism incompatible with nontrivial chances. This conception – associated in particular with the work of David Lewis – is not a good fit with our use of the word ‘chance’ and its cognates in ordinary discourse. In this paper we show how a generalized framework for chance can reconcile determinism with nontrivial chances, and provide for a more charitable interpretation of ordinary chancetalk. According to our proposal, variation in an admissible ‘evidence (...) 

In recent work, Callender and Cohen (2009) and Hoefer (2007) have proposed variants of the account of chance proposed by Lewis (1994). One of the ways in which these accounts diverge from Lewis’s is that they allow special sciences and the macroscopic realm to have chances that are autonomous from those of physics and the microscopic realm. A worry for these proposals is that autonomous chances may place incompatible constraints on rational belief. I examine this worry, and attempt to determine (...) 

In two recent papers Barry Loewer (2001, 2004) has suggested to interpret probabilities in statistical mechanics as Humean chances in David Lewis’ (1994) sense. I first give a precise formulation of this proposal, then raise two fundamental objections, and finally conclude that these can be overcome only at the price of interpreting these probabilities epistemically. 

One popular approach to statistical mechanics understands statistical mechanical probabilities as measures of rational indifference. Naive formulations of this ``indifference approach'' face reversibility worries  while they yield the right prescriptions regarding future events, they yield the wrong prescriptions regarding past events. This paper begins by showing how the indifference approach can overcome the standard reversibility worries by appealing to the Past Hypothesis. But, the paper argues, positing a Past Hypothesis doesn't free the indifference approach from all reversibility worries. For (...) 

Handbook of the History of Logic, vol. 10, eds. Dov Gabbay, Stephan Hartmann, and John Woods, forthcoming. 

Consider a gas that is adiabatically isolated from its environment and conﬁned to the left half of a container. Then remove the wall separating the two parts. The gas will immediately start spreading and soon be evenly distributed over the entire available space. The gas has approached equilibrium. Thermodynamics (TD) characterizes this process in terms of an increase of thermodynamic entropy, which attains its maximum value at equilibrium. The second law of thermodynamics captures the irreversibility of this process by positing (...) 

How should our beliefs change over time? The standard answer to this question is the Bayesian one. But while the Bayesian account works well with respect to beliefs about the world, it breaks down when applied to selflocating or de se beliefs. In this work I explore ways to extend Bayesianism in order to accommodate de se beliefs. I begin by assessing, and ultimately rejecting, attempts to resolve these issues by appealing to Dutch books and chancecredence principles. I then propose (...) 

Bayesian Epistemology is a general framework for thinking about agents who have beliefs that come in degrees. Theories in this framework give accounts of rational belief and rational belief change, which share two key features: (i) rational belief states are represented with probability functions, and (ii) rational belief change results from the acquisition of evidence. This dissertation focuses specifically on the second feature. I pose the Evidence Question: What is it to have evidence? Before addressing this question we must have (...) 

A persistent question about the deBroglie–Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics concerns the understanding of Born’s rule in the theory. Where do the quantum mechanical probabilities come from? How are they to be interpreted? These are the problems of emergence and interpretation. In more than 50 years no consensus regarding the answers has been achieved. Indeed, mirroring the foundational disputes in statistical mechanics, the answers to each question are surprisingly diverse. This paper is an opinionated survey of this literature. While acknowledging (...) 

This paper examines two mistakes regarding David Lewis’ Principal Principle that have appeared in the recent literature. These particular mistakes are worth looking at for several reasons: The thoughts that lead to these mistakes are natural ones, the principles that result from these mistakes are untenable, and these mistakes have led to significant misconceptions regarding the role of admissibility and time. After correcting these mistakes, the paper discusses the correct roles of time and admissibility. With these results in hand, the (...) 

This paper examines the debate between permissive and impermissive forms of Bayesianism. It briefly discusses some considerations that might be offered by both sides of the debate, and then replies to some new arguments in favor of impermissivism offered by Roger White. First, it argues that White’s defense of Indifference Principles is unsuccessful. Second, it contends that White’s arguments against permissive views do not succeed. 

This pair of articles provides a critical commentary on contemporary approaches to statistical mechanical probabilities. These articles focus on the two ways of understanding these probabilities that have received the most attention in the recent literature: the epistemic indifference approach, and the Lewisstyle regularity approach. These articles describe these approaches, highlight the main points of contention, and make some attempts to advance the discussion. The first of these articles provides a brief sketch of statistical mechanics, and discusses the indifference approach (...) 

The world is said to contain crystal balls whenever the present carries news of the asyetundetermined parts of the future. Many philosophers believe that crystal balls are metaphysically possible. In this essay, I argue that they are not. Whether crystal balls are possible matters, for at least two reasons. The first is epistemological. According to a simple, userfriendly chance norm for credence, which I call the Present Principle, agents are rationally required to conform their credences to their expectations of the (...) 

I follow Hájek (Synthese 137:273–323, 2003c) by taking objective probability to be a function of two propositional arguments—that is, I take conditional probability as primitive. Writing the objective probability of q given r as P(q, r), I argue that r may be chosen to provide less than a complete and exact description of the world’s history or of its state at any time. It follows that nontrivial objective probabilities are possible in deterministic worlds and about the past. A very simple (...) 

In his ‘A Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance’, Lewis argued that a particular kinematical model for chances follows from his principal principle. According to this model, any later chance function is equal to an earlier chance function conditional on the complete intervening history of nonmodal facts. This article first investigates the conditions that any kinematical model for chance needs to satisfy to count as Lewis’s kinematics of chance. Second, it presents Lewis’s justification for his kinematics of chance and explains why (...) 

The foundations of probability are viewed through the lens of the subjectivist interpretation. This article surveys conditional probability, arguments for probabilism, probability dynamics, and the evidential and subjective interpretations of probability. 