Have your cake and eat it too: The old principal principle reconciled with the new

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (2):368–382 (2004)
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Abstract

David Lewis (1980) proposed the Principal Principle (PP) and a “reformulation” which later on he called ‘OP’ (Old Principle). Reacting to his belief that these principles run into trouble, Lewis (1994) concluded that they should be replaced with the New Principle (NP). This conclusion left Lewis uneasy, because he thought that an inverse form of NP is “quite messy”, whereas an inverse form of OP, namely the simple and intuitive PP, is “the key to our concept of chance”. I argue that, even if OP should be discarded, PP need not be. Moreover, far from being messy, an inverse form of NP is a simple and intuitive Conditional Principle (CP). Finally, both PP and CP are special cases of a General Principle (GP); it follows that so are PP and NP, which are thus compatible rather than competing.

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Peter Vranas
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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