Single-case probabilities

Foundations of Physics 21 (12):1501-1516 (1991)
The propensity interpretation of probability, bred by Popper in 1957(K. R. Popper, in Observation and Interpretation in the Philosophy of Physics,S. Körner, ed. (Butterworth, London, 1957, and Dover, New York, 1962), p. 65; reprinted in Popper Selections,D. W. Miller, ed. (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1985), p. 199) from pure frequency stock, is the only extant objectivist account that provides any proper understanding of single-case probabilities as well as of probabilities in ensembles and in the long run. In Sec. 1 of this paper I recall salient points of the frequency interpretations of von Mises and of Popper himself, and in Sec. 2 I filter out from Popper's numerous expositions of the propensity interpretation its most interesting and fertile strain. I then go on to assess it. First I defend it, in Sec. 3, against recent criticisms(P. Humphreys, Philos. Rev.94,557 (1985); P. Milne, Erkenntnis25,129 (1986)) to the effect that conditional [or relative] probabilities, unlike absolute probabilities, can only rarely be made sense of as propensities. I then challenge its predominance, in Sec. 4, by outlining a rival theory: an irreproachably objectivist theory of probability, fully applicable to the single case, that interprets physical probabilities asinstantaneous frequencies
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DOI 10.1007/BF01889654
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The Matter of Chance.D. H. Mellor - 2004 - Cambridge University Press.
The Foundations of Scientific Inference.Wesley C. Salmon - 1966 - University of Pittsburgh Press.

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