Determinism and chance

It is generally thought that objective chances for particular events different from 1 and 0 and determinism are incompatible. However, there are important scientific theories whose laws are deterministic but which also assign non-trivial probabilities to events. The most important of these is statistical mechanics whose probabilities are essential to the explanations of thermodynamic phenomena. These probabilities are often construed as 'ignorance' probabilities representing our lack of knowledge concerning the microstate. I argue that this construal is incompatible with the role of probability in explanation and laws. This is the 'paradox of deterministic probabilities'. After surveying the usual list of accounts of objective chance and finding them inadequate I argue that an account of chance sketched by David Lewis can be modified to solve the paradox of deterministic probabilities and provide an adequate account of the probabilities in deterministic theories like statistical mechanics.
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DOI 10.1016/S1355-2198(01)00028-4
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (1980). A Subjectivist's Guide to Objective Chance. In Richard C. Jeffrey (ed.), Studies in Inductive Logic and Probability. University of California Press 83--132.
Peter Clark (1987). Determinism and Probability in Physics. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 61:185--210.

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Citations of this work BETA
Gordon Belot (2012). Quantum States for Primitive Ontologists: A Case Study. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):67-83.
Barry Loewer (2012). Two Accounts of Laws and Time. Philosophical Studies 160 (1):115-137.
Luke Glynn (2010). Deterministic Chance. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):51–80.
Christopher J. G. Meacham (2010). Two Mistakes Regarding the Principal Principle. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2):407-431.

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