Rationalizing the Principal Principle for Non-Humean Chance


According to Humean theories of objective chance, the chances reduce to patterns in the history of occurrent events, such as frequencies. According to non-Humean accounts, the chances are metaphysically fundamental, existing independently of the "Humean Mosaic" of actually-occurring events. It is therefore possible, by the lights of non-Humeanism, for the chances and the frequencies to diverge wildly. Humeans often allege that this undermines the ability of non-Humean accounts of chance to rationalize adherence to David Lewis' Principal Principle (PP), which states that an agent's degrees of belief should match what they take to be the objective chances. In this paper, I propose two approaches to justifying (PP) for non-Humean chance, hence defusing the Humean objection. The first approach justifies (PP) via the role it plays in informing outright beliefs about long-run frequencies. The second approach justifies (PP) by showing that adherence to (PP), even for non-Humean chance, maximizes expected epistemic utility according to the actual objective chance function. I then address an objection to this approach, concerning the alleged circularity of the derivations.

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Jake Khawaja
Princeton University


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