The Infinite Ballot Box of Nature: De Morgan, Boole, and Jevons on Probability and the Logic of Induction

The project of constructing a logic of scientific inference on the basis of mathematical probability theory was first undertaken in a systematic way by the mid-nineteenth-century British logicians Augustus De Morgan, George Boole and William Stanley Jevons. This paper sketches the origins and motivation of that effort, the emergence of the inverse probability (IP) model of theory assessment, and the vicissitudes which that model suffered at the hands of its critics. Particular emphasis is given to the influence which competing interpretations of probability had on the project, and to the role of the 'lottery' or 'ballot box' metaphor in the philosophical imagination of the proponents of the IP model.
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