The concept of probability in physics: an analytic version of von Mises’ interpretation


Authors
Louis Vervoort
Université du Québec à Montreal
Abstract
In the following we will investigate whether von Mises’ frequency interpretation of probability can be modified to make it philosophically acceptable. We will reject certain elements of von Mises’ theory, but retain others. In the interpretation we propose we do not use von Mises’ often criticized ‘infinite collectives’ but we retain two essential claims of his interpretation, stating that probability can only be defined for events that can be repeated in similar conditions, and that exhibit frequency stabilization. The central idea of the present article is that the mentioned ‘conditions’ should be well-defined and ‘partitioned’. More precisely, we will divide probabilistic systems into object, initializing, and probing subsystem, and show that such partitioning allows to solve problems. Moreover we will argue that a key idea of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (the determinant role of the observing system) can be seen as deriving from an analytic definition of probability as frequency. Thus a secondary aim of the article is to illustrate the virtues of analytic definition of concepts, consisting of making explicit what is implicit.
Keywords Interpretation of Probability  Frequency Interpretation  von Mises  Probability in physics  Probabilistic system
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References found in this work BETA

The Scientific Image.Michael Friedman - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.
Philosophical Theories of Probability.Donald Gillies - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):132-134.
Chasing Reality: Strife Over Realism.Mario Bunge - 2006 - University of Toronto Press.
Bell’s Theorem: Two Neglected Solutions.Louis Vervoort - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (6):769-791.
Introduction.Claus Beisbart & Stephan Hartmann - 2011 - In Claus Beisbart & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Probabilities in Physics. Oxford University Press.

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