Do chances receive equal treatment under the laws? Or: Must chances be probabilities?


Authors
Marc Lange
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Abstract
I offer an argument regarding chances that appears to yield a dilemma: either the chances at time t must be determined by the natural laws and the history through t of instantiations of categorical properties, or the function ch(•) assigning chances need not satisfy the axioms of probability. The dilemma's first horn might seem like a remnant of determinism. On the other hand, this horn might be inspired by our best scientific theories. In addition, it is entailed by the familiar view that facts about chances at t are ontologically reducible to facts about the laws and the categorical history through t. However, that laws are ontologically prior to chances stands in some tension with the view that chances are governed by laws just as categorical-property instantiations are. The dilemma's second horn entails that if chances are in fact probabilities, then this is a matter of natural law rather than logical or conceptual necessity. I conclude with a suggestion for going between the horns of the dilemma. This suggestion involves a generalization of the notion that chances evolve by conditionalization. Introduction "Chances evolve by conditionalization" How might the lawful magnitude principle be defended? A historical interlude What if chances failed to be determined by the laws and categorical facts?
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axl005
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References found in this work BETA

Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.
Causal and Metaphysical Necessity.Sydney Shoemaker - 1998 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (1):59–77.
Belief and the Will.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (5):235-256.
David Lewis’s Humean Theory of Objective Chance.Barry Loewer - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1115--25.

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Citations of this work BETA

Deterministic Chance.Antony Eagle - 2011 - Noûs 45 (2):269 - 299.
The Metaphysics of Chance.Rachael Briggs - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (11):938-952.
Must the Fundamental Laws of Physics Be Complete?Marc Lange - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):312-345.
On Higher-Order and Free-Floating Chances.Justin C. Fisher - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):691-707.
Must the Fundamental Laws of Physics Be Complete?Marc Lange - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):312-345.

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