Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||This is the intellectual book of the year, and it ought to become one of the great classics of intellectual history. In it James Franklin brilliantly describes the early development and application of the concept of probability, by which is meant not just the sort of probability associated with dice throwing (which he calls `factual probability'), but also what we often refer to as `likelihood" (and which is sometimes termed `logical probability'). That is, the book deals with the early history of non-demonstrative ('inductive') reasoning, where some degree of likelihood can be established from the evidence, but not certainty (in other words, not logical entailment). Such reasoning is often treated cursorily in logic classes, but it is the reasoning we most often have to employ in the sciences, medicine, the law and everyday life. For example, the `big bang' theory is supported by some good arguments, good enough to justify a belief in it, but we cannot be certain that it is true. The same applies to my belief that I will not die by going for a drive in my car today - it is entirely likely that I will survive, but I cannot be certain. As such, non-- demonstrative reasoning is one of the most important areas of study there is.|
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