Logic with numbers

Synthese 156 (3):491-512 (2007)
Many people regard utility theory as the only rigorous foundation for subjective probability, and even de Finetti thought the betting approach supplemented by Dutch Book arguments only good as an approximation to a utility-theoretic account. I think that there are good reasons to doubt this judgment, and I propose an alternative, in which the probability axioms are consistency constraints on distributions of fair betting quotients. The idea itself is hardly new: it is in de Finetti and also Ramsey. What is new is that it is shown that probabilistic consistency and consequence can be defined in a way formally analogous to the way these notions are defined in deductive (propositional) logic. The result is a free-standing logic which does not pretend to be a theory of rationality and is therefore immune to, among other charges, that of “logical omniscience”.
Keywords Probability  Utility  Odds  Logic  Consistency
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