Popper’s Laws of the Excess of the Probability of the Conditional over the Conditional Probability

Conceptus: Zeitschrift Fur Philosophie 26:3–61 (1992/93)
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Karl Popper discovered in 1938 that the unconditional probability of a conditional of the form ‘If A, then B’ normally exceeds the conditional probability of B given A, provided that ‘If A, then B’ is taken to mean the same as ‘Not (A and not B)’. So it was clear (but presumably only to him at that time) that the conditional probability of B given A cannot be reduced to the unconditional probability of the material conditional ‘If A, then B’. I describe how this insight was developed in Popper’s writings and I add to this historical study a logical one, in which I compare laws of excess in Kolmogorov probability theory with laws of excess in Popper probability theory.

Author's Profile

Georg Dorn
University of Salzburg


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