What is Probability?


In October 2009 I decided to stop doing philosophy. This meant, in particular, stopping work on the book that I was writing on the nature of probability. At that time, I had no intention of making my unfinished draft available to others. However, I recently noticed how many people are reading the lecture notes and articles on my web site. Since this draft book contains some important improvements on those materials, I decided to make it available to anyone who wants to read it. That is what you have in front of you. The account of Laplace’s theory of probability in Chapter 4 is very different to what I said in my seminar lectures, and also very different to any other account I have seen; it is based on a reading of important texts by Laplace that appear not to have been read by other commentators. The discussion of von Mises’ theory in Chapter 7 is also new, though perhaps less revolutionary. And the final chapter is a new attempt to come to grips with the popular, but amorphous, subjective theory of probability. The material in the other chapters has mostly appeared in previous articles of mine but things are sometimes expressed differently here. I would like to say again that this is an incomplete draft of a book, not the book I would have written if I had decided to finish it. It no doubt contains poor expressions, it may contain some errors or inconsistencies, and it doesn’t cover all the theories that I originally intended to discuss. Apart from this preface, I have done no work on the book since October 2009.



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Citations of this work

The Brandeis Dice Problem and Statistical Mechanics.Steven J. van Enk - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48 (1):1-6.
Analysis, Explication, and the Nature of Concepts.Frauke Albersmeier - 2019 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 22 (1):180-201.

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References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1973 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.

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