The big bad bug bites anti-realists about chance

Synthese 167 (1):81--92 (2009)
David Lewis’s ‘Humean Supervenience’ (henceforth ‘HS’) combines realism about laws, chances, and dispositions with a sparse ontology according to which everything supervenes on the overall spatiotemporal distribution of non-dispositional properties (Lewis 1986a, Philosophical papers: Volume II, pp. ix–xvii, New York: Oxford Univesity Press, 1994, Mind 103:473–490). HS faces a serious problem—a “big bad bug” (Lewis 1986a, p. xiv): it contradicts the Principal Principle, a seemingly obvious norm of rational credence. Two authors have tried to rescue Lewis’s ontology from the ‘big bad bug’ (henceforth ‘the Bug’) by rejecting realism about laws, chances, and dispositions (Halpin 1994, Aust J Phil 72:317–338, 1998, Phil Sci 65:349–360; Ward 2005, Phil Sci 71:241–261). I will argue that this strategy cannot possibly work: it is the ontology, not the realist thesis, that lies at the root of the problem.
Keywords Metaphysics  Philosophy of science  Laws of nature  Probability  Humean Supervenience  Bayesianism  Quasi-realism  Relativism
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