About this topic
Summary Perhaps the most natural way to understand probability is as an epistemic phenomenon. A probability function is an attempt to quantify a degree of uncertainty -- a state of mind. But some probabilities appear to be objective features of the world. A well constructed die has a probability of one in six that it will land on any given side, for instance. Such objective probabilities, or chances, explain why events happen with typical frequencies, while they cannot be predicted with certainty on any given trial. Philosophical controversies primarily arise regarding: the relationship between chances and epistemic states (under what circumstances should our degree of confidence match the chance, and why?); and also regarding the relationship between chances and frequencies (if chances are not reducible to frequencies, how do they explain those frequencies?).
Key works Popper 1959 puts forth the propensity interpretation of probability, which has been an influential way of understanding chances; Lewis 1980 focuses upon epistemic aspects of chance, and is the focus of much literature relating to Humeanism and chance; Loewer 2004 is a helpful paper further exploring Lewis's metaphysics of chance; Albert 2000 discusses the time asymmetry of chance and its relation to temporal symmetries in physics.
Introductions Consult Handfield 2012 for an exclusive focus upon chance; Hájek 2008 is about broader topic of probability, but has much that is of relevance to chance; Eagle 2010 contains many classic papers.
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  1. Law and Chance.C. J. Adcock - 1928 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):210 – 212.
  2. The Taming of ChanceIan Hacking.Timothy L. Alborn - 1992 - Isis 83 (2):366-367.
  3. The Concept of Probability.Patrick K. Bastable - 1971 - Philosophical Studies 20:337-338.
  4. Opinions and Chances.Simon Blackburn - 1980 - In D. H. Mellor (ed.), Prospects for Pragmatism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 175--96.
  5. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition.D. M. Borchert (ed.) - 2006
  6. What Are the Philosophical Probabilities ?Nicolas Bouleau - unknown
  7. An Empty Refinement in Mellor's Definition of Chances.Bryson Brown - 2000 - Analysis 60 (3):238–243.
  8. Statistische Wahrscheinlichkeit Und Statistische Physik.W. Büchel - 1975 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 6 (1):7-18.
    W. Stegmüller sees the decisive difficulty of the Laplacean interpretation of Carnaps probability in the lack of the required equiprobable possibilities. It is argued that the required equiprobabilities in physics are given by statistical mechanics and can easily be transferred from physics to general statistical problems.
  9. Chance, Cause, Reason: An Inquiry Into the Nature of Scientific Evidence.Arthur W. Burks - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (3):500-502.
  10. Chance and Uncertainty.H. W. Capel, J. S. Cramer, O. Estevez-Uscanga, C. A. J. Klaassen & G. J. Mellenbergh (eds.) - 2002 - Amsterdam University Press.
    'Uncertainty and chance' is a subject with a broad span, in that there is no academic discipline or walk of life that is not beset by uncertainty and chance. In this book a range of approaches is represented by authors from varied disciplines: natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences and medical sciences. At one extreme, this volume is concerned with the foundations of probability. At the other extreme, we have scholars who acknowledge the concept of chance and uncertainty but do not (...)
  11. The Logical Foundations of Probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (13):362-364.
  12. Rooting Out Randomness.John L. Casti - 2001 - Complexity 6 (4):13-15.
  13. Total Control and Chance in Musics. Part II. Reflections on Criticism and Judgment.Robert Charles Clark - 1970 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 29 (1):43-46.
  14. Causality, Chance and Weak Non-Super Venience.Carol E. Cleland - 1985 - American Philosophical Quarterly 22 (4):287 - 298.
  15. Chance, Skill, and Luck.John Cohen - 1960 - Baltimore: Penguin Books.
  16. L'aléatoire / Marcel Conche.Marcel Conche - 1999
  17. The Concept of Probability.Neil Cooper - 1965 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (63):226-238.
  18. Statistical Induction and the Foundations of Probability.Arthur H. Copeland - 1962 - Theoria 28 (2):87-109.
  19. Probability and Laws.D. Costantini - 1985 - Erkenntnis 22 (1-3):33 - 49.
  20. Has David Howden Vindicated Richard von Mises's Definition of Probability?Mark Crovelli - 2009 - Libertarian Papers 1:44.
    In my recent article on these pages I argued that members of the Austrian School of economics have adopted and defended a faulty definition of probability. I argued that the definition of probability necessarily depends upon the nature of the world in which we live. I claimed that if the nature of the world is such that every event and phenomenon which occurs has a cause of some sort, then probability must be defined subjectively; that is, “as a measure of (...)
  21. On the Possibility of Assigning Probabilities to Singular Cases, Or: Probability Is Subjective Too!Mark Crovelli - 2009 - Libertarian Papers 1:26.
    Both Ludwig von Mises and Richard von Mises claimed that numerical probability could not be legitimately applied to singular cases. This paper challenges this aspect of the von Mises brothers’ theory of probability. It is argued that their denial that numerical probability could be applied to singular cases was based solely upon Richard von Mises’ exceptionally restrictive definition of probability. This paper challenges Richard von Mises’ definition of probability by arguing that the definition of probability necessarily depends upon whether the (...)
  22. How Stable Is Objective Chance?John Cusbert - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy069.
    This paper examines the stability of objective chance. I defend the stable chance thesis : that in any given possible world, any pair of intrinsic duplicate physical setups with the same chances of being subject to the same external influences must yield the same chances. I argue that SCT compares favourably to rivals in the literature. I then consider a challenge to SCT involving time travel and causal loops. I argue that SCT survives this challenge, but that such cases expose (...)
  23. Backwards Causation and the Chancy Past.John Cusbert - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):1-33.
    I argue that the past can be objectively chancy in cases of backwards causation, and defend a view of chance that allows for this. Using a case, I argue against the popular temporal view of chance, according to which chances are defined relative to times, and all chancy events must lie in the future. I then state and defend the causal view of chance, according to which chances are defined relative to causal histories, and all chancy events must lie causally (...)
  24. Logic and Probability in Physics.C. G. Darwin - 1939 - Philosophy of Science 6 (1):48-64.
  25. Probability, Symmetry and Frequency.A. P. Dawid - 1985 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36 (2):107-128.
    We consider the meaning of the assignment of probabilities to events implied by the kind of model regularly used by Statisticians. Traditional frequentist understandings are reviewed and rejected. It is argued that many statistical models may be justified purely on the basis of the symmetry properties enjoyed by the observables being modelled.
  26. Philosophical Lectures on Probability. Collected, Edited and Annotated by Alberto Mura.Bruno De Finetti - 2008 - Springer.
    The book contains the transcription of a course on the foundations of probability given by the Italian mathematician Bruno de Finetti in 1979 at the a oeNational Institute of Advanced Mathematicsa in Rome.
  27. Chance and Necessity in Cooperative Phenomena.P. G. de Gennes - 1977 - Diogenes 25 (100):198-217.
  28. A Treatise on Aleatory Probability.Agustin de Herrera & Sven K. Knebel - 1996 - Modern Schoolman 73 (3):199-264.
  29. Chance as a Category of Science.Arthur Dewing - 1910 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 7 (3):70-73.
  30. Probabilities, Laws, and Structures.Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao J. Gonzalez, Stephan Hartmann, Michael Stöltzner & Weber - 2012 - Springer.
  31. Probabilities, Laws, and Structures.Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao Gonzalez, Hartmann J., Stöltzner Stephan, Weber Michael & Marcel (eds.) - 2012 - Springer: Netherlands.
  32. A Dilemma for Objective Chance.Phil Dowe - 2003 - In Jr Kyburg & Mariam Thalos (eds.), Probability is the Very Guide of Life: The Philosophical Uses of Chance. Open Court. pp. 153--64.
  33. Heuristic Mysteries- Invention, Language, Chance.B. Durand-Sendrail, D. L. Davis & J. C. Gage - 1997 - Diogenes 45 (178):87-105.
  34. Frequency, Laws, and Time-Dependent Chances.Antony Eagle - manuscript
  35. The Meaning of Chance.Ralph M. Eaton - 1921 - The Monist 31 (2):280-296.
  36. Counterfactuals, Dispositions, and Conscious Experience: Essays on Entropy.Adam Newman Elga - 2001 - Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Chapter 1 of this thesis concerns counterfactual conditionals. David Lewis has offered a natural and influential analysis of counterfactuals. But the analysis fails to take into account the asymmetry of entropy, and comes to grief precisely because of that failure. The cause of the grief is that processes involving the increase of entropy are exceedingly sensitive to small changes in their final conditions. ;Chapter 2 concerns robust dispositions. Drop an ordinary rock into hydrofluoric acid, and---almost no matter what is going (...)
  37. Objective Probabilities in Number Theory.J. Ellenberg & E. Sober - 2011 - Philosophia Mathematica 19 (3):308-322.
    Philosophers have explored objective interpretations of probability mainly by considering empirical probability statements. Because of this focus, it is widely believed that the logical interpretation and the actual-frequency interpretation are unsatisfactory and the hypothetical-frequency interpretation is not much better. Probabilistic assertions in pure mathematics present a new challenge. Mathematicians prove theorems in number theory that assign probabilities. The most natural interpretation of these probabilities is that they describe actual frequencies in finite sets and limits of actual frequencies in infinite sets. (...)
  38. A Review Essay on God, Chance & Necessity.Brian Ellis - 1999 - Sophia 38 (1):89-98.
  39. Chance, Possibility, and Explanation.N. Emery - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):95-120.
    I argue against the common and influential view that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic. The problem with this view, I claim, is not that it conflicts with some antecedently plausible metaphysics of chance or that it fails to capture our everyday use of ‘chance’ and related terms, but rather that it is unstable. Any reason for adopting the position that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic is also a reason for adopting (...)
  40. Chance and Creation.Douglas Fawcett - 1927 - Mind 36 (142):261-262.
  41. Frequencies and Propensities: Inference to the Best Explanation.J. H. Fetzer - 2002 - Synthese 132 (1-2).
  42. Probabilistic Metaphysics.James H. Fetzer - 2010 - In Ellery Eells & James H. Fetzer (eds.), The Place of Probability in Science. Springer. pp. 81--98.
  43. Probability.Ronald A. Fisher - 1922 - The Eugenics Review 14 (1):46.
  44. Chance, Cause, Reason.Milton Fisk - 1980 - International Studies in Philosophy 12 (1):93-95.
  45. Physics and Chance.Henry J. Folse - 1997 - International Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):150-151.
  46. Probability in Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics.Roman Frigg - unknown
    In two recent papers Barry Loewer (2001, 2004) has suggested to interpret probabilities in statistical mechanics as Humean chances in David Lewis’ (1994) sense. I first give a precise formulation of this proposal, then raise two fundamental objections, and finally conclude that these can be overcome only at the price of interpreting these probabilities epistemically.
  47. Comments on Patrick Suppes “Propensity Interpretations of Probability”.Maria Carla Galavotti - 1987 - Erkenntnis 26 (3):359 - 368.
  48. Argument From Chances.Quentin Gibson - 1953 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):170 – 183.
  49. Objective Single-Case Probabilities and the Foundations of Statistics.Ronald N. Giere - 2010 - In Antony Eagle (ed.), Philosophy of Probability: Contemporary Readings. Routledge.
  50. The Empire of Chance: How Probability Changed Science and Everyday Life.Gerd Gigerenzer, Zeno Swijtink, Theodore Porter, Lorraine Daston, John Beatty & Lorenz Kruger - 1989 - Cambridge University Press.
    The Empire of Chance tells how quantitative ideas of chance transformed the natural and social sciences, as well as daily life over the last three centuries. A continuous narrative connects the earliest application of probability and statistics in gambling and insurance to the most recent forays into law, medicine, polling and baseball. Separate chapters explore the theoretical and methodological impact in biology, physics and psychology. Themes recur - determinism, inference, causality, free will, evidence, the shifting meaning of probability - but (...)
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