In finite probabilitytheory, events are subsets S⊆U of the outcome set. Subsets can be represented by 1-dimensional column vectors. By extending the representation of events to two dimensional matrices, we can introduce "superposition events." Probabilities are introduced for classical events, superposition events, and their mixtures by using density matrices. Then probabilities for experiments or `measurements' of all these events can be determined in a manner exactly like in quantum mechanics (QM) using density matrices. Moreover the transformation of (...) the density matrices induced by the experiments or `measurements' is the Lüders mixture operation as in QM. And finally by moving the machinery into the n-dimensional vector space over ℤ₂, different basis sets become different outcome sets. That `non-commutative' extension of finite probabilitytheory yields the pedagogical model of quantum mechanics over ℤ₂ that can model many characteristic non-classical results of QM. (shrink)
Epistemic closure under known implication is the principle that knowledge of "p" and knowledge of "p implies q", together, imply knowledge of "q". This principle is intuitive, yet several putative counterexamples have been formulated against it. This paper addresses the question, why is epistemic closure both intuitive and prone to counterexamples? In particular, the paper examines whether probabilitytheory can offer an answer to this question based on four strategies. The first probability-based strategy rests on the accumulation (...) of risks. The problem with this strategy is that risk accumulation cannot accommodate certain counterexamples to epistemic closure. The second strategy is based on the idea of evidential support, that is, a piece of evidence supports a proposition whenever it increases the probability of the proposition. This strategy makes progress and can accommodate certain putative counterexamples to closure. However, this strategy also gives rise to a number of counterintuitive results. Finally, there are two broadly probabilistic strategies, one based on the idea of resilient probability and the other on the idea of assumptions that are taken for granted. These strategies are promising but are prone to some of the shortcomings of the second strategy. All in all, I conclude that each strategy fails. Probabilitytheory, then, is unlikely to offer the account we need. (shrink)
This paper shows how the classical finite probabilitytheory (with equiprobable outcomes) can be reinterpreted and recast as the quantum probability calculus of a pedagogical or "toy" model of quantum mechanics over sets (QM/sets). There are two parts. The notion of an "event" is reinterpreted from being an epistemological state of indefiniteness to being an objective state of indefiniteness. And the mathematical framework of finite probabilitytheory is recast as the quantum probability calculus for (...) QM/sets. The point is not to clarify finite probabilitytheory but to elucidate quantum mechanics itself by seeing some of its quantum features in a classical setting. (shrink)
In this text the ancient philosophical question of determinism (“Does every event have a cause ?”) will be re-examined. In the philosophy of science and physics communities the orthodox position states that the physical world is indeterministic: quantum events would have no causes but happen by irreducible chance. Arguably the clearest theorem that leads to this conclusion is Bell’s theorem. The commonly accepted ‘solution’ to the theorem is ‘indeterminism’, in agreement with the Copenhagen interpretation. Here it is recalled that indeterminism (...) is not really a physical but rather a philosophical hypothesis, and that it has counterintuitive and far-reaching implications. At the same time another solution to Bell’s theorem exists, often termed ‘superdeterminism’ or ‘total determinism’. Superdeterminism appears to be a philosophical position that is centuries and probably millennia old: it is for instance Spinoza’s determinism. If Bell’s theorem has both indeterministic and deterministic solutions, choosing between determinism and indeterminism is a philosophical question, not a matter of physical experimentation, as is widely believed. If it is impossible to use physics for deciding between both positions, it is legitimate to ask which philosophical theories are of help. Here it is argued that probabilitytheory – more precisely the interpretation of probability – is instrumental for advancing the debate. It appears that the hypothesis of determinism allows to answer a series of precise questions from probabilitytheory, while indeterminism remains silent for these questions. From this point of view determinism appears to be the more reasonable assumption, after all. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with representations of belief by means of nonadditive probabilities of the Dempster-Shafer (DS) type. After surveying some foundational issues and results in the D.S. theory, including Suppes's related contributions, the paper proceeds to analyze the connection of the D.S. theory with some of the work currently pursued in epistemic logic. A preliminary investigation of the modal logic of belief functions à la Shafer is made. There it is shown that the Alchourrron-Gärdenfors-Makinson (A.G.M.) logic of (...) belief change is closely related to the D.S. theory. The final section compares the critique of Bayesianism which underlies the present paper with some important objections raised by Suppes against this doctrine. -/- . (shrink)
Evolutionary theory (ET) is teeming with probabilities. Probabilities exist at all levels: the level of mutation, the level of microevolution, and the level of macroevolution. This uncontroversial claim raises a number of contentious issues. For example, is the evolutionary process (as opposed to the theory) indeterministic, or is it deterministic? Philosophers of biology have taken different sides on this issue. Millstein (1997) has argued that we are not currently able answer this question, and that even scientific realists ought (...) to remain agnostic concerning the determinism or indeterminism of evolutionary processes. If this argument is correct, it suggests that, whatever we take probabilities in ET to be, they must be consistent with either determinism or indeterminism. This raises some interesting philosophical questions: How should we understand the probabilities used in ET? In other words, what is meant by saying that a certain evolutionary change is more or less probable? Which interpretation of probability is the most appropriate for ET? I argue that the probabilities used in ET are objective in a realist sense, if not in an indeterministic sense. Furthermore, there are a number of interpretations of probability that are objective and would be consistent with ET under determinism or indeterminism. However, I argue that evolutionary probabilities are best understood as propensities of population-level kinds. (shrink)
This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemic modals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional theories. In particular, we need probabilistic structure that (...) interacts directly with the compositional semantics of deontic modals. However, I reject theories that provide this probabilistic structure by claiming that the semantics of deontic modals is linked to the Bayesian notion of expectation. I offer a probabilistic premise semantics that explains all the data that create trouble for the rival theories. (shrink)
Book review of Paul Horwich, Probability and Evidence (Cambridge Philosophy Classics edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016, 147pp, £14.99 (paperback).
As stochastic independence is essential to the mathematical development of probabilitytheory, it seems that any foundational work on probability should be able to account for this property. Bayesian decision theory appears to be wanting in this respect. Savage’s postulates on preferences under uncertainty entail a subjective expected utility representation, and this asserts only the existence and uniqueness of a subjective probability measure, regardless of its properties. What is missing is a preference condition corresponding to (...) stochastic independence. To fill this significant gap, the article axiomatizes Bayesian decision theory afresh and proves several representation theorems in this novel framework. (shrink)
Stochastic independence has a complex status in probabilitytheory. It is not part of the definition of a probability measure, but it is nonetheless an essential property for the mathematical development of this theory. Bayesian decision theorists such as Savage can be criticized for being silent about stochastic independence. From their current preference axioms, they can derive no more than the definitional properties of a probability measure. In a new framework of twofold uncertainty, we introduce (...) preference axioms that entail not only these definitional properties, but also the stochastic independence of the two sources of uncertainty. This goes some way towards filling a curious lacuna in Bayesian decision theory. (shrink)
Ignited by Einstein and Bohr a century ago, the philosophical struggle about Reality is yet unfinished, with no signs of a swift resolution. Despite vast technological progress fueled by the iconic EPR paper (EPR), the intricate link between ontic and epistemic aspects of Quantum Theory (QT) has greatly hindered our grip on Reality and further progress in physical theory. Fallacies concealed by tortuous logical negations made EPR comprehension much harder than it could have been had Einstein written it (...) himself in German. It is plagued with preconceptions about what a physical property is, the 'Uncertainty Principle', and the Principle of Locality. Numerous interpretations of QT vis à vis Reality exist and are keenly disputed. This is the first of a series of articles arguing for a physical interpretation called ‘The Ontic Probability Interpretation’ (TOPI). A gradual explanation of TOPI is given intertwined with a meticulous logico-philosophical scrutiny of EPR. Part I focuses on the meaning of Einstein’s ‘Incompleteness’ claim. A conceptual confusion, a preconception about Reality, and a flawed dichotomy are shown to be severe obstacles for the EPR argument to succeed. Part II analyzes Einstein’s ‘Incompleteness/Nonlocality Dilemma’. Future articles will further explain TOPI, demonstrating its soundness and potential for nurturing theoretical progress. (shrink)
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 probabilitytheory with laws of excess in Popper probabilitytheory. (shrink)
Contrary to Bell’s theorem it is demonstrated that with the use of classical probabilitytheory the quantum correlation can be approximated. Hence, one may not conclude from experiment that all local hidden variable theories are ruled out by a violation of inequality result.
After pinpointing a conceptual confusion (TCC), a Reality preconception (TRP1), and a fallacious dichotomy (TFD), the famous EPR/EPRB argument for correlated ‘particles’ is studied in the light of the Ontic Probability Interpretation (TOPI) of Quantum Theory (QT). Another Reality preconception (TRP2) is identified, showing that EPR used and ignored QT predictions in a single paralogism. Employing TFD and TRP2, EPR unveiled a contradiction veiled in its premises. By removing nonlocality from QT’s Ontology by fiat, EPR preordained its incompleteness. (...) The Petitio Principii fallacy was at work from the outset. Einstein surmised the solution to his incompleteness/nonlocality dilemma in 1949, but never abandoned his philosophical stance. It is concluded that there are no definitions of Reality: we have to accept that Reality may not conform to our prejudices and, if an otherwise successful theory predicts what we do not believe in, no gedankenexperiment will help because our biases may slither through. Only actual experiments could assist in solving Einstein’s dilemma, as proven in the last 50 years. Notwithstanding, EPR is one of the most influential papers in history and has immensely sparked both conceptual and technological progress. Future articles will further explain TOPI, demonstrating its soundness and potential for nurturing theoretical advance. (shrink)
The notion of comparative probability defined in Bayesian subjectivist theory stems from an intuitive idea that, for a given pair of events, one event may be considered “more probable” than the other. Yet it is conceivable that there are cases where it is indeterminate as to which event is more probable, due to, e.g., lack of robust statistical information. We take that these cases involve indeterminate comparative probabilities. This paper provides a Savage-style decision-theoretic foundation for indeterminate comparative probabilities.
The major competing statistical paradigms share a common remarkable but unremarked thread: in many of their inferential applications, different probability interpretations are combined. How this plays out in different theories of inference depends on the type of question asked. We distinguish four question types: confirmation, evidence, decision, and prediction. We show that Bayesian confirmation theory mixes what are intuitively “subjective” and “objective” interpretations of probability, whereas the likelihood-based account of evidence melds three conceptions of what constitutes an (...) “objective” probability. (shrink)
Bayesian confirmation theory is rife with confirmation measures. Zalabardo focuses on the probability difference measure, the probability ratio measure, the likelihood difference measure, and the likelihood ratio measure. He argues that the likelihood ratio measure is adequate, but each of the other three measures is not. He argues for this by setting out three adequacy conditions on confirmation measures and arguing in effect that all of them are met by the likelihood ratio measure but not by any (...) of the other three measures. Glass and McCartney, hereafter “G&M,” accept the conclusion of Zalabardo’s argument along with each of the premises in it. They nonetheless try to improve on Zalabardo’s argument by replacing his third adequacy condition with a weaker condition. They do this because of a worry to the effect that Zalabardo’s third adequacy condition runs counter to the idea behind his first adequacy condition. G&M have in mind confirmation in the sense of increase in probability: the degree to which E confirms H is a matter of the degree to which E increases H’s probability. I call this sense of confirmation “IP.” I set out four ways of precisifying IP. I call them “IP1,” “IP2,” “IP3,” and “IP4.” Each of them is based on the assumption that the degree to which E increases H’s probability is a matter of the distance between p and a certain other probability involving H. I then evaluate G&M’s argument in light of them. (shrink)
Bayesian confirmation theory is rife with confirmation measures. Many of them differ from each other in important respects. It turns out, though, that all the standard confirmation measures in the literature run counter to the so-called “Reverse Matthew Effect” (“RME” for short). Suppose, to illustrate, that H1 and H2 are equally successful in predicting E in that p(E | H1)/p(E) = p(E | H2)/p(E) > 1. Suppose, further, that initially H1 is less probable than H2 in that p(H1) < (...) p(H2). Then by RME it follows that the degree to which E confirms H1 is greater than the degree to which it confirms H2. But by all the standard confirmation measures in the literature, in contrast, it follows that the degree to which E confirms H1 is less than or equal to the degree to which it confirms H2. It might seem, then, that RME should be rejected as implausible. Festa (2012), however, argues that there are scientific contexts in which RME holds. If Festa’s argument is sound, it follows that there are scientific contexts in which none of the standard confirmation measures in the literature is adequate. Festa’s argument is thus interesting, important, and deserving of careful examination. I consider five distinct respects in which E can be related to H, use them to construct five distinct ways of understanding confirmation measures, which I call “Increase in Probability”, “Partial Dependence”, “Partial Entailment”, “Partial Discrimination”, and “Popper Corroboration”, and argue that each such way runs counter to RME. The result is that it is not at all clear that there is a place in Bayesian confirmation theory for RME. (shrink)
I introduce a formalization of probability which takes the concept of 'evidence' as primitive. In parallel to the intuitionistic conception of truth, in which 'proof' is primitive and an assertion A is judged to be true just in case there is a proof witnessing it, here 'evidence' is primitive and A is judged to be probable just in case there is evidence supporting it. I formalize this outlook by representing propositions as types in Martin-Lof type theory (MLTT) and (...) defining a 'probability type' on top of the existing machinery of MLTT, whose inhabitants represent pieces of evidence in favor of a proposition. One upshot of this approach is the potential for a mathematical formalism which treats 'conjectures' as mathematical objects in their own right. Other intuitive properties of evidence occur as theorems in this formalism. (shrink)
In his classic book “the Foundations of Statistics” Savage developed a formal system of rational decision making. The system is based on (i) a set of possible states of the world, (ii) a set of consequences, (iii) a set of acts, which are functions from states to consequences, and (iv) a preference relation over the acts, which represents the preferences of an idealized rational agent. The goal and the culmination of the enterprise is a representation theorem: Any preference relation that (...) satisfies certain arguably acceptable postulates determines a (finitely additive) probability distribution over the states and a utility assignment to the consequences, such that the preferences among acts are determined by their expected utilities. Additional problematic assumptions are however required in Savage's proofs. First, there is a Boolean algebra of events (sets of states) which determines the richness of the set of acts. The probabilities are assigned to members of this algebra. Savage's proof requires that this be a σ-algebra (i.e., closed under infinite countable unions and intersections), which makes for an extremely rich preference relation. On Savage's view we should not require subjective probabilities to be σ-additive. He therefore finds the insistence on a σ-algebra peculiar and is unhappy with it. But he sees no way of avoiding it. Second, the assignment of utilities requires the constant act assumption: for every consequence there is a constant act, which produces that consequence in every state. This assumption is known to be highly counterintuitive. The present work contains two mathematical results. The first, and the more difficult one, shows that the σ-algebra assumption can be dropped. The second states that, as long as utilities are assigned to finite gambles only, the constant act assumption can be replaced by the more plausible and much weaker assumption that there are at least two non-equivalent constant acts. The second result also employs a novel way of deriving utilities in Savage-style systems -- without appealing to von Neumann-Morgenstern lotteries. The paper discusses the notion of “idealized agent" that underlies Savage's approach, and argues that the simplified system, which is adequate for all the actual purposes for which the system is designed, involves a more realistic notion of an idealized agent. (shrink)
Using “brute reason” I will show why there can be only one valid interpretation of probability. The valid interpretation turns out to be a further refinement of Popper’s Propensity interpretation of probability. Via some famous probability puzzles and new thought experiments I will show how all other interpretations of probability fail, in particular the Bayesian interpretations, while these puzzles do not present any difficulties for the interpretation proposed here. In addition, the new interpretation casts doubt on (...) some concepts often taken as basic and unproblematic, like rationality, utility and expectation. This in turn has implications for decision theory, economic theory and the philosophy of physics. (shrink)
Modern scientific cosmology pushes the boundaries of knowledge and the knowable. This is prompting questions on the nature of scientific knowledge. A central issue is what defines a 'good' model. When addressing global properties of the Universe or its initial state this becomes a particularly pressing issue. How to assess the probability of the Universe as a whole is empirically ambiguous, since we can examine only part of a single realisation of the system under investigation: at some point, data (...) will run out. We review the basics of applying Bayesian statistical explanation to the Universe as a whole. We argue that a conventional Bayesian approach to model inference generally fails in such circumstances, and cannot resolve, e.g., the so-called 'measure problem' in inflationary cosmology. Implicit and non-empirical valuations inevitably enter model assessment in these cases. This undermines the possibility to perform Bayesian model comparison. One must therefore either stay silent, or pursue a more general form of systematic and rational model assessment. We outline a generalised axiological Bayesian model inference framework, based on mathematical lattices. This extends inference based on empirical data (evidence) to additionally consider the properties of model structure (elegance) and model possibility space (beneficence). We propose this as a natural and theoretically well-motivated framework for introducing an explicit, rational approach to theoretical model prejudice and inference beyond data. (shrink)
This paper starts by indicating the analysis of Hempel's conditions of adequacy for any relation of confirmation (Hempel, 1945) as presented in Huber (submitted). There I argue contra Carnap (1962, Section 87) that Hempel felt the need for two concepts of confirmation: one aiming at plausible theories and another aiming at informative theories. However, he also realized that these two concepts are conflicting, and he gave up the concept of confirmation aiming at informative theories. The main part of the paper (...) consists in working out the claim that one can have Hempel's cake and eat it too - in the sense that there is a logic of theory assessment that takes into account both of the two conflicting aspects of plausibility and informativeness. According to the semantics of this logic, a is an acceptable theory for evidence β if and only if a is both sufficiently plausible given β and sufficiently informative about β. This is spelt out in terms of ranking functions (Spohn, 1988) and shown to represent the syntactically specified notion of an assessment relation. The paper then compares these acceptability relations to explanatory and confirmatory consequence relations (Flach, 2000) as well as to nonmonotonic consequence relations (Kraus et al., 1990). It concludes by relating the plausibility-informativeness approach to Carnap's positive relevance account, thereby shedding new light on Carnap's analysis as well as solving another problem of confirmation theory. (shrink)
I present a solution to the epistemological or characterisation problem of induction. In part I, Bayesian Confirmation Theory (BCT) is discussed as a good contender for such a solution but with a fundamental explanatory gap (along with other well discussed problems); useful assigned probabilities like priors require substantive degrees of belief about the world. I assert that one does not have such substantive information about the world. Consequently, an explanation is needed for how one can be licensed to act (...) as if one has substantive information about the world when one does not. I sketch the outlines of a solution in part I, showing how it differs from others, with full details to follow in subsequent parts. The solution is pragmatic in sentiment (though differs in specifics to arguments from, for example, William James); the conceptions we use to guide our actions are and should be at least partly determined by preferences. This is cashed out in a reformulation of decision theory motivated by a non-reductive formulation of hypotheses and logic. A distinction emerges between initial assumptions--that can be non-dogmatic--and effective assumptions that can simultaneously be substantive. An explanation is provided for the plausibility arguments used to explain assigned probabilities in BCT. -/- In subsequent parts, logic is constructed from principles independent of language and mind. In particular, propositions are defined to not have form. Probabilities are logical and uniquely determined by assumptions. The problems considered fatal to logical probabilities--Goodman's `grue' problem and the uniqueness of priors problem are dissolved due to the particular formulation of logic used. Other problems such as the zero-prior problem are also solved. -/- A universal theory of (non-linguistic) meaning is developed. Problems with counterfactual conditionals are solved by developing concepts of abstractions and corresponding pictures that make up hypotheses. Spaces of hypotheses and the version of Bayes' theorem that utilises them emerge from first principles. -/- Theoretical virtues for hypotheses emerge from the theory. Explanatory force is explicated. The significance of effective assumptions is partly determined by combinatoric factors relating to the structure of hypotheses. I conjecture that this is the origin of simplicity. (shrink)
The usual way to try to ground knowing according to contemporary theory of knowledge is: We know something if (1) it’s true, (2) we believe it, and (3) we believe it for the “right” reasons. Floridi proposes a better way. His grounding is based partly on probabilitytheory, and partly on a question/answer network of verbal and behavioural interactions evolving in time. This is rather like modeling the data-exchange between a data-seeker who needs to know which button (...) to press on a food-dispenser and a data-knower who already knows the correct number. The success criterion, hence the grounding, is whether the seeker’s probability of lunch is indeed increasing (hence uncertainty is decreasing) as a result of the interaction. Floridi also suggests that his philosophy of information casts some light on the problem of consciousness. I’m not so sure. (shrink)
We provide a 'verisimilitudinarian' analysis of the well-known Linda paradox or conjunction fallacy, i.e., the fact that most people judge the probability of the conjunctive statement "Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement" (B & F) as more probable than the isolated statement "Linda is a bank teller" (B), contrary to an uncontroversial principle of probabilitytheory. The basic idea is that experimental participants may judge B & F a better hypothesis about (...) Linda as compared to B because they evaluate B & F as more verisimilar than B. In fact, the hypothesis "feminist bank teller", while less likely to be true than "bank teller", may well be a better approximation to the truth about Linda. (shrink)
I examine what the mathematical theory of random structures can teach us about the probability of Plenitude, a thesis closely related to David Lewis's modal realism. Given some natural assumptions, Plenitude is reasonably probable a priori, but in principle it can be (and plausibly it has been) empirically disconfirmed—not by any general qualitative evidence, but rather by our de re evidence.
Cancer research is experiencing ‘paradigm instability’, since there are two rival theories of carcinogenesis which confront themselves, namely the somatic mutation theory and the tissue organization field theory. Despite this theoretical uncertainty, a huge quantity of data is available thanks to the improvement of genome sequencing techniques. Some authors think that the development of new statistical tools will be able to overcome the lack of a shared theoretical perspective on cancer by amalgamating as many data as possible. We (...) think instead that a deeper understanding of cancer can be achieved by means of more theoretical work, rather than by merely accumulating more data. To support our thesis, we introduce the analytic view of theory development, which rests on the concept of plausibility, and make clear in what sense plausibility and probability are distinct concepts. Then, the concept of plausibility is used to point out the ineliminable role played by the epistemic subject in the development of statistical tools and in the process of theory assessment. We then move to address a central issue in cancer research, namely the relevance of computational tools developed by bioinformaticists to detect driver mutations in the debate between the two main rival theories of carcinogenesis. Finally, we briefly extend our considerations on the role that plausibility plays in evidence amalgamation from cancer research to the more general issue of the divergences between frequentists and Bayesians in the philosophy of medicine and statistics. We argue that taking into account plausibility-based considerations can lead to clarify some epistemological shortcomings that afflict both these perspectives. (shrink)
In this paper I propose an interpretation of classical statistical mechanics that centers on taking seriously the idea that probability measures represent complete states of statistical mechanical systems. I show how this leads naturally to the idea that the stochasticity of statistical mechanics is associated directly with the observables of the theory rather than with the microstates (as traditional accounts would have it). The usual assumption that microstates are representationally significant in the theory is therefore dispensable, a (...) consequence which suggests interesting possibilities for developing non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and investigating inter-theoretic answers to the foundational questions of statistical mechanics. (shrink)
The article is a plea for ethicists to regard probability as one of their most important concerns. It outlines a series of topics of central importance in ethical theory in which probability is implicated, often in a surprisingly deep way, and lists a number of open problems. Topics covered include: interpretations of probability in ethical contexts; the evaluative and normative significance of risk or uncertainty; uses and abuses of expected utility theory; veils of ignorance; Harsanyi’s (...) aggregation theorem; population size problems; equality; fairness; giving priority to the worse off; continuity; incommensurability; nonexpected utility theory; evaluative measurement; aggregation; causal and evidential decision theory; act consequentialism; rule consequentialism; and deontology. (shrink)
This paper addresses the issue of finite versus countable additivity in Bayesian probability and decision theory -- in particular, Savage's theory of subjective expected utility and personal probability. I show that Savage's reason for not requiring countable additivity in his theory is inconclusive. The assessment leads to an analysis of various highly idealised assumptions commonly adopted in Bayesian theory, where I argue that a healthy dose of, what I call, conceptual realism is often helpful (...) in understanding the interpretational value of sophisticated mathematical structures employed in applied sciences like decision theory. In the last part, I introduce countable additivity into Savage's theory and explore some technical properties in relation to other axioms of the system. (shrink)
Leibniz’s account of probability has come into better focus over the past decades. However, less attention has been paid to a certain domain of application of that account, that is, the application of it to the moral or ethical domain—the sphere of action, choice and practice. This is significant, as Leibniz had some things to say about applying probabilitytheory to the moral domain, and thought the matter quite relevant. Leibniz’s work in this area is conducted at (...) a high level of abstraction. It establishes a proof of concept, rather than concrete guidelines for how to apply calculations to specific cases. Still, this highly abstract material does allow us to begin to construct a framework for thinking about Leibniz’s approach to the ethical side of probability. (shrink)
Conditional probability is often used to represent the probability of the conditional. However, triviality results suggest that the thesis that the probability of the conditional always equals conditional probability leads to untenable conclusions. In this paper, I offer an interpretation of this thesis in a possible worlds framework, arguing that the triviality results make assumptions at odds with the use of conditional probability. I argue that these assumptions come from a theory called the operator (...)theory and that the rival restrictor theory can avoid these problematic assumptions. In doing so, I argue that recent extensions of the triviality arguments to restrictor conditionals fail, making assumptions which are only justified on the operator theory. (shrink)
There is widespread belief in a tension between quantum theory and special relativity, motivated by the idea that quantum theory violates J. S. Bell’s criterion of local causality, which is meant to implement the causal structure of relativistic space-time. This paper argues that if one takes the essential intuitive idea behind local causality to be that probabilities in a locally causal theory depend only on what occurs in the backward light cone and if one regards objective (...) class='Hi'>probability as what imposes constraints on rational credence along the lines of David Lewis’ Principal Principle, then one arrives at the view that whether or not Bell’s criterion holds is irrelevant for whether or not local causality holds. The assumptions on which this argument rests are highlighted, and those that may seem controversial are motivated. (shrink)
Taking the philosophical standpoint, this article compares the mathematical theory of individual decision-making with the folk psychology conception of action, desire and belief. It narrows down its topic by carrying the comparison vis-à-vis Savage's system and its technical concept of subjective probability, which is referred to the basic model of betting as in Ramsey. The argument is organized around three philosophical theses: (i) decision theory is nothing but folk psychology stated in formal language (Lewis), (ii) the former (...) substantially improves on the latter, but is unable to overcome its typical limitations, especially its failure to separate desire and belief empirically (Davidson), (iii) the former substantially improves on the latter, and through these innovations, overcomes some of the limitations. The aim of the article is to establish (iii) not only against the all too simple thesis (i), but also against the subtle thesis (ii). (shrink)
This dissertation is a contribution to formal and computational philosophy. -/- In the first part, we show that by exploiting the parallels between large, yet finite lotteries on the one hand and countably infinite lotteries on the other, we gain insights in the foundations of probabilitytheory as well as in epistemology. Case 1: Infinite lotteries. We discuss how the concept of a fair finite lottery can best be extended to denumerably infinite lotteries. The solution boils down to (...) the introduction of infinitesimal probability values, which can be achieved using non-standard analysis. Our solution can be generalized to uncountable sample spaces, giving rise to a Non-Archimedean Probability (NAP) theory. Case 2: Large but finite lotteries. We propose application of the language of relative analysis (a type of non-standard analysis) to formulate a new model for rational belief, called Stratified Belief. This contextualist model seems well-suited to deal with a concept of beliefs based on probabilities ‘sufficiently close to unity’. -/- The second part presents a case study in social epistemology. We model a group of agents who update their opinions by averaging the opinions of other agents. Our main goal is to calculate the probability for an agent to end up in an inconsistent belief state due to updating. To that end, an analytical expression is given and evaluated numerically, both exactly and using statistical sampling. The probability of ending up in an inconsistent belief state turns out to be always smaller than 2%. (shrink)
In this short survey article, I discuss Bell’s theorem and some strategies that attempt to avoid the conclusion of non-locality. I focus on two that intersect with the philosophy of probability: (1) quantum probabilities and (2) superdeterminism. The issues they raised not only apply to a wide class of no-go theorems about quantum mechanics but are also of general philosophical interest.
A generalized information theory is proposed as a natural extension of Shannon's information theory. It proposes that information comes from forecasts. The more precise and the more unexpected a forecast is, the more information it conveys. If subjective forecast always conforms with objective facts then the generalized information measure will be equivalent to Shannon's information measure. The generalized communication model is consistent with K. R. Popper's model of knowledge evolution. The mathematical foundations of the new information theory, (...) the generalized communication model , information measures for semantic information and sensory information, and the coding meanings of generalized entropy and generalized mutual information are introduced. Assessments and optimizations of pattern recognition, predictions, and detection with the generalized information criterion are discussed. For economization of communication, a revised version of rate-distortion theory: rate-of-keeping-precision theory, which is a theory for datum compression and also a theory for matching an objective channels with the subjective understanding of information receivers, is proposed. Applications include stock market forecasting and video image presentation. (shrink)
Any realist interpretation of quantum theory must grapple with the measurement problem and the status of state-vector collapse. In a no-collapse approach, measurement is typically modeled as a dynamical process involving decoherence. We describe how the minimal modal interpretation closes a gap in this dynamical description, leading to a complete and consistent resolution to the measurement problem and an effective form of state collapse. Our interpretation also provides insight into the indivisible nature of measurement—the fact that you can't stop (...) a measurement part-way through and uncover the underlying 'ontic' dynamics of the system in question. Having discussed the hidden dynamics of a system's ontic state during measurement, we turn to more general forms of open-system dynamics and explore the extent to which the details of the underlying ontic behavior of a system can be described. We construct a space of ontic trajectories and describe obstructions to defining a probability measure on this space. (shrink)
Stalnaker's Thesis about indicative conditionals is, roughly, that the probability one ought to assign to an indicative conditional equals the probability that one ought to assign to its consequent conditional on its antecedent. The thesis seems right. If you draw a card from a standard 52-card deck, how confident are you that the card is a diamond if it's a red card? To answer this, you calculate the proportion of red cards that are diamonds -- that is, you (...) calculate the probability of drawing a diamond conditional on drawing a red card. Skyrms' Thesis about counterfactual conditionals is, roughly, that the probability that one ought to assign to a counterfactual equals one's rational expectation of the chance, at a relevant past time, of its consequent conditional on its antecedent. This thesis also seems right. If you decide not to enter a 100-ticket lottery, how confident are you that you would have won had you bought a ticket? To answer this, you calculate the prior chance--that is, the chance just before your decision not to buy a ticket---of winning conditional on entering the lottery. The central project of this article is to develop a new uniform theory of conditionals that allows us to derive a version of Skyrms' Thesis from a version of Stalnaker's Thesis, together with a chance-deference norm relating rational credence to beliefs about objective chance. (shrink)
This paper provides an introductory review of the theory of judgment aggregation. It introduces the paradoxes of majority voting that originally motivated the field, explains several key results on the impossibility of propositionwise judgment aggregation, presents a pedagogical proof of one of those results, discusses escape routes from the impossibility and relates judgment aggregation to some other salient aggregation problems, such as preference aggregation, abstract aggregation and probability aggregation. The present illustrative rather than exhaustive review is intended to (...) give readers new to the field of judgment aggregation a sense of this rapidly growing research area. (shrink)
How can the propositional attitudes of several individuals be aggregated into overall collective propositional attitudes? Although there are large bodies of work on the aggregation of various special kinds of propositional attitudes, such as preferences, judgments, probabilities and utilities, the aggregation of propositional attitudes is seldom studied in full generality. In this paper, we seek to contribute to filling this gap in the literature. We sketch the ingredients of a general theory of propositional attitude aggregation and prove two new (...) theorems. Our first theorem simultaneously characterizes some prominent aggregation rules in the cases of probability, judgment and preference aggregation, including linear opinion pooling and Arrovian dictatorships. Our second theorem abstracts even further from the specific kinds of attitudes in question and describes the properties of a large class of aggregation rules applicable to a variety of belief-like attitudes. Our approach integrates some previously disconnected areas of investigation. (shrink)
We consider the foundational relation between arithmetic and set theory. Our goal is to criticize the construction of standard arithmetic models as providing grounds for arithmetic truth (even in a relative sense). Our method is to emphasize the incomplete picture of both theories and treat models as their syntactical counterparts. Insisting on the incomplete picture will allow us to argue in favor of the revisability of the standard model interpretation. We then show that it is hopeless to expect that (...) the relative grounding provided by a standard interpretation can resist being revisable. We start briefly characterizing the expansion of arithmetic `truth' provided by the interpretation in a set theory. Further, we show that, for every well-founded interpretation of recursive extensions of PA in extensions of ZF, the interpreted version of arithmetic has more theorems than the original. This theorem expansion is not complete however. We continue by defining the coordination problem. The problem can be summarized as follows. We consider two independent communities of mathematicians responsible for deciding over new axioms for ZF and PA. How likely are they to be coordinated regarding PA’s interpretation in ZF? We prove that it is possible to have extensions of PA not interpretable in a given set theory ST. We further show that the probability of a random extension of arithmetic being interpretable in ST is zero. (shrink)
In the following we will investigate whether von Mises’ frequency interpretation of probability can be modified to make it philosophically acceptable. We will reject certain elements of von Mises’ theory, but retain others. In the interpretation we propose we do not use von Mises’ often criticized ‘infinite collectives’ but we retain two essential claims of his interpretation, stating that probability can only be defined for events that can be repeated in similar conditions, and that exhibit frequency stabilization. (...) The central idea of the present article is that the mentioned ‘conditions’ should be well-defined and ‘partitioned’. More precisely, we will divide probabilistic systems into object, initializing, and probing subsystem, and show that such partitioning allows to solve problems. Moreover we will argue that a key idea of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (the determinant role of the observing system) can be seen as deriving from an analytic definition of probability as frequency. Thus a secondary aim of the article is to illustrate the virtues of analytic definition of concepts, consisting of making explicit what is implicit. (shrink)
This paper argues that the technical notion of conditional probability, as given by the ratio analysis, is unsuitable for dealing with our pretheoretical and intuitive understanding of both conditionality and probability. This is an ontological account of conditionals that include an irreducible dispositional connection between the antecedent and consequent conditions and where the conditional has to be treated as an indivisible whole rather than compositional. The relevant type of conditionality is found in some well-defined group of conditional statements. (...) As an alternative, therefore, we briefly offer grounds for what we would call an ontological reading: for both conditionality and conditional probability in general. It is not offered as a fully developed theory of conditionality but can be used, we claim, to explain why calculations according to the RATIO scheme does not coincide with our intuitive notion of conditional probability. What it shows us is that for an understanding of the whole range of conditionals we will need what John Heil (2003), in response to Quine (1953), calls an ontological point of view. (shrink)
This is part II in a series of papers outlining Abstraction Theory, a theory that I propose provides a solution to the characterisation or epistemological problem of induction. Logic is built from first principles severed from language such that there is one universal logic independent of specific logical languages. A theory of (non-linguistic) meaning is developed which provides the basis for the dissolution of the `grue' problem and problems of the non-uniqueness of probabilities in inductive logics. The (...) problem of counterfactual conditionals is generalised to a problem of truth conditions of hypotheses and this general problem is then solved by the notion of abstractions. The probability calculus is developed with examples given. In future parts of the series the full decision theory is developed and its properties explored. (shrink)
In the paper we will employ set theory to study the formal aspects of quantum mechanics without explicitly making use of space-time. It is demonstrated that von Neuman and Zermelo numeral sets, previously efectively used in the explanation of Hardy’s paradox, follow a Heisenberg quantum form. Here monadic union plays the role of time derivative. The logical counterpart of monadic union plays the part of the Hamiltonian in the commutator. The use of numerals and monadic union in the classical (...)probability resolution of Hardy’s paradox [1] is supported with the present derivation of a commutator for sets. (shrink)
Within the causal modeling literature, debates about the Causal Faithfulness Condition have concerned whether it is probable that the parameters in causal models will have values such that distinct causal paths will cancel. As the parameters in a model are fixed by the probability distribution over its variables, it is initially puzzling what it means to assign probabilities to these parameters. I propose that to assign a probability to a parameter in a model is to treat that parameter (...) as a function of a variable in an augmented model. By combining this proposal with widely adopted principles regarding which variables must be included in a model, I argue that the various proposed counterexamples to CFC involving coordinated parameters are not genuine counterexamples. I then consider the cases in which CFC fails due not to coordination, but by coincidence, and propose explanatory and predictive bases for ruling out such coincidences without presuming that they are improbable. The aim of the proposed defenses is not to show that CFC never fails, but rather to argue that its use in a particular context may be defended using general modeling assumptions rather than by relying on claims about how often it fails. (shrink)
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 sequence of outcomes, and the latter as a property of the process generating those outcomes. A discussion follows of the nature and limits of the relationship between the two notions, with largely negative verdicts on the prospects for any reduction of one to the other, although the existence of an apparently random sequence of outcomes is good evidence for the involvement of a genuinely chancy process. (shrink)
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