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. 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 (...)
  2. 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 (...)
  3. Social Preference Under Twofold Uncertainty.Philippe Mongin & Marcus Pivato - manuscript
    We investigate the conflict between the ex ante and ex post criteria of social welfare in a new framework of individual and social decisions, which distinguishes between two sources of uncertainty, here interpreted as an objective and a subjective source respectively. This framework makes it possible to endow the individuals and society not only with ex ante and ex post preferences, as is usually done, but also with interim preferences of two kinds, and correspondingly, to introduce interim forms of the (...)
  4. 4. Physical Chance.Richard Johns - 2002 - In A Theory of Physical Probability. University of Toronto Press. pp. 84-108.
  5. Chance in the Everett Interpretation.Simon Saunders - unknown
    The notion of objective probability or chance, as a physical trait of the world, has proved elusive; the identification of chances with actual frequencies does not succeed. An adequate theory of chance should explain not only the connection of chance with statistics, but with degrees of belief, and more broadly the entire phenomenology of chance events and their measurement. Branching structure in the decoherence-based many worlds theory provides an account of what chance is that satisfies all these desiderata, including the (...)
  6. Taking Chances.Brian Skyrms & Jordan Howard Sobel - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (3):410.
  7. The Matter of Chance.Isaac Levi & D. H. Mellor - 1973 - Philosophical Review 82 (4):524.
  8. A World of Chance.V. F. Lenzen & Edward Gleason Spaulding - 1937 - Philosophical Review 46 (6):668.
  9. The Chances of Propensities.Mauricio Suárez - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1155-1177.
    This paper argues that if propensities are displayed in objective physical chances then the appropriate representation of these chances is as indexed probability functions. Two alternative formal models, or accounts, for the relation between propensity properties and their chancy or probabilistic manifestations, in terms of conditionals and conditional probability are first reviewed. It is argued that both confront important objections, which are overcome by the account in terms of indexed probabilities. A number of further advantages of the indexed probability account (...)
  10. Chance and the Emergence of Purpose A Peircean Perspective.Andrew Robinson - 2015 - Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences 2 (2):194-215.
  11. The Only Probability Is Verbal Probability.George Masterton - 2014 - Metaphysica 15 (1).
    In 1977 van Fraassen showed convincingly, and in detail, how one can give a dissentive answer to the question `[a]re there necessities in nature?'. In this paper I follow his lead and show in a similar fashion and detail, how it is possible to give a dissentive answer to: Are there probabilities in nature? This is achieved by giving a partial analysis—with the aid of Kaplanian pragmatics—of objective chance in terms of that credence that is reasonable where prevailing laws and (...)
  12. A World of Chance. Whence, Whither, and Why?A. E. M. & Edward Gleason Spaulding - 1936 - Journal of Philosophy 33 (11):302.
  13. 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 (...)
  14. Chance.D. H. Mellor & John Watling - 1969 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 43 (1):11-48.
  15. The Taming of ChanceIan Hacking.Timothy L. Alborn - 1992 - Isis 83 (2):366-367.
  16. Mapping the CosmosJane Chance R. O. Wells, Jr.Claudia Kren - 1986 - Isis 77 (2):336-336.
  17. Finite Frequentism in a Big World.Nick Tosh - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):169-213.
    The view that chances are relative frequencies of occurrence within actual, finite reference classes has long been written off. I argue that it ought to be reconsidered. Focusing on non-deterministic chance, I defend a version of finite frequentism in which reference classmates are required to have qualitatively identical pasts. While my analysis can evade or resist several standard objections, it has a counterintuitive consequence: non-trivial chances entail the existence of past light cones that are perfect intrinsic duplicates. In mitigation, I (...)
  18. Time and Chance.Jos Uffink - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 33 (3):555-563.
  19. A Study in Probability.D. Taylor - 1935 - Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy 13 (4):290-298.
  20. Chance Is RealA World of Chance. Edward Gleason Spaulding.Oliver L. Reiser - 1936 - Philosophy of Science 3 (4):543-545.
  21. What Chances Could Not Be.J. Ismael - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):79-91.
    The chance of a physical event is the objective, single-case probability that it will occur. In probabilistic physical theories like quantum mechanics, the chances of physical events play the formal role that the values of physical quantities play in classical physics, and there is a temptation to regard them on the model of the latter as describing intrinsic properties of the systems to which they are assigned. I argue that this understanding of chances in quantum mechanics, despite being a part (...)
  22. Interpreting Probability: Controversies and Developments in the Early Twentieth Century.David Howie - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
    The term probability can be used in two main senses. In the frequency interpretation it is a limiting ratio in a sequence of repeatable events. In the Bayesian view, probability is a mental construct representing uncertainty. This 2002 book is about these two types of probability and investigates how, despite being adopted by scientists and statisticians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Bayesianism was discredited as a theory of scientific inference during the 1920s and 1930s. Through the examination of a (...)
  23. Probability as Typicality.Sérgio B. Volchan - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (4):801-814.
  24. Probabilities, Laws, and Structures.Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao Gonzalez, Hartmann J., Stöltzner Stephan, Weber Michael & Marcel (eds.) - 2012 - Springer: Netherlands.
  25. Dynamic Rationality: Propensity, Probability, and Credence.Wesley C. Salmon - 1988 - In James H. Fetzer (ed.), Essays in Honor of Wesley C. Salmon. Springer: Netherlands. pp. 3--40.
  26. Causal Interpretations of Probability.Wolfgang Pietsch - unknown
    The prospects of a causal interpretation of probability are examined. Various accounts both from the history of scientific method and from recent developments in the tradition of the method of arbitrary functions, in particular by Strevens, Rosenthal, and Abrams, are briefly introduced and assessed. I then present a specific account of causal probability with the following features: First, the link between causal probability and a particular account of induction and causation is established, namely eliminative induction and the related difference-making account (...)
  27. The Common Cause Principle. Explanation Via Screening Off.Leszek Wronski - 2010 - Dissertation, Jagiellonian University
    My Ph.D. dissertation written under the supervision of Prof. Tomasz Placek at the Institute of Philosophy of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. In one of its most basic and informal shapes, the principle of the common cause states that any surprising correlation between two factors which are believed not to directly influence one another is due to their common cause. Here we will be concerned with a version od this idea which possesses a purely probabilistic formulation. It was introduced, in (...)
  28. Making Sense of Probabilities in Physics.Maria Panagiotatou - 2014 - Metascience 23 (3):461-465.
  29. Introduction: Chance and Temporal Asymmetry.Alastair Wilson - 2014 - In Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford University Press.
  30. Probabilities, Laws, and Structures.Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao J. Gonzalez, Stephan Hartmann, Michael Stöltzner & Weber - 2012 - Springer.
  31. 9. Whether Providence is Compatible with Both Order and Chance?Paul Weingartner - 2014 - In Nature's Teleological Order and God's Providence: Are They Compatible with Chance, Free Will, and Evil? De Gruyter. pp. 94-105.
  32. 6. Whether There is Chance and Randomness in Non-Living Things?Paul Weingartner - 2014 - In Nature's Teleological Order and God's Providence: Are They Compatible with Chance, Free Will, and Evil? De Gruyter. pp. 46-61.
  33. 8. Whether There is Chance and Randomness in Living Things?Paul Weingartner - 2014 - In Nature's Teleological Order and God's Providence: Are They Compatible with Chance, Free Will, and Evil? De Gruyter. pp. 78-93.
  34. The Logic of Chance, an Essay on the Theory of Probability.John Venn - 1876
  35. T-Theoretical Single-Case Ontic Probability.David Grünberg - unknown - Yeditepe'de Felsefe (Philosophy at Yeditepe) 4.
  36. HORPE, W. H.: "Purpose in a World of Chance". [REVIEW]Vernon Pratt - 1979 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30:309.
  37. The Ethics of Chance.Ernst-jan Camiel Wit - 1997 - Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
    Chance complicates the apparent control that human beings have over their life-world. Although the scientific community has come a long way in taming probabilities, coincidence will always remain unavoidable and principally irreducible. In this dissertation we analyze the distinction between probability and coincidence. Coincidence is the frustration of explanation. Only if the agent acts in order to avoid regret, are her actions immune to coincidence. We shall call this action as being in accordance with deliberative rationality. A probabilistic concept of (...)
  38. Our Future Inheritance: Choice or Chance?D. F. Roberts - 1975 - Journal of Biosocial Science 7 (4):494.
  39. Gillies, Donald, "An Objective Theory of Probability". [REVIEW]Colin Howson - 1979 - Erkenntnis 14:87.
  40. The Enterprise of Knowledge: An Essay on Knowledge, Credal Probability, and Chance. [REVIEW] R. - 1982 - Review of Metaphysics 35 (3):610-612.
  41. An Analysis of Probability Interpretations for the Physical and Biological Sciences.Kimberly Ann Maricic - 1993 - Dissertation, Washington University
    In this work, five different interpretations of "probability" are analyzed: the classical, logical, subjective, relative frequency, and propensity interpretations. The objective is to determine which of these interpretations is most suitable for probability applications in the physical and biological sciences. The first state of this analysis involves evaluating the different interpretations with respect to the probability calculus. The objective at this point is not to reject any interpretations outright, but rather to keep in mind any difficulties in adherence to the (...)
  42. Patrick Suppes, Probabilistic Metaphysics. [REVIEW]Alasdair Urquhart - 1985 - Philosophy in Review 5:478-480.
  43. Inquiries in the Philosophy of Probability: Randomness and Independence.Paul William Humphreys - 1976 - Dissertation, Stanford University
  44. Some Remarks of Foundations of Probability Theory.Michal Heller - 1985 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 33 (3):82.
  45. The Logical Structure of Probability.Stephen Martin Spielman - 1967 - Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
  46. Probability.S. E. Toulmin & L. J. Russell - 1950 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 24:27-74.
  47. Objective Chance: Lonergan and Peirce on Scientific Generalization.S. Vincent Potter - 1994 - Method 12 (1):91-108.
  48. R.A. Fisher And The Interpretation Of Probability.Howard Harriott - 1998 - ProtoSociology 12:176-193.
  49. 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 (...)
  50. Chance and Choice by Cardpack and Chessboard: An Introduction to Probability in Practice by Visual Aids. Vol. I.Lancelot Hogben - 1952 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 12 (3):434-436.
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