On Universality of Classical Probability with Contextually Labeled Random Variables

Journal of Mathematical Psychology 85:17-24 (2018)
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Abstract

One can often encounter claims that classical (Kolmogorovian) probability theory cannot handle, or even is contradicted by, certain empirical findings or substantive theories. This note joins several previous attempts to explain that these claims are unjustified, illustrating this on the issues of (non)existence of joint distributions, probabilities of ordered events, and additivity of probabilities. The specific focus of this note is on showing that the mistakes underlying these claims can be precluded by labeling all random variables involved contextually. Moreover, contextual labeling also enables a valuable additional way of analyzing probabilistic aspects of empirical situations: determining whether the random variables involved form a contextual system, in the sense generalized from quantum mechanics. Thus, to the extent the Wang-Busemeyer QQ equality for the question order effect holds, the system describing them is noncontextual. The double-slit experiment and its behavioral analogues also turn out to form a noncontextual system, having the same probabilistic format (cyclic system of rank 4) as the one describing spins of two entangled electrons.

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