Probability and Randomness

In Alan Hájek & Christopher Hitchcock (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. pp. 440-459 (2016)
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Early work on the frequency theory of probability made extensive use of the notion of randomness, conceived of as a property possessed by disorderly collections of outcomes. Growing out of this work, a rich mathematical literature on algorithmic randomness and Kolmogorov complexity developed through the twentieth century, but largely lost contact with the philosophical literature on physical probability. The present chapter begins with a clarification of the notions of randomness and probability, conceiving of the former as a property of a sequence of outcomes, and the latter as a property of the process generating those outcomes. A discussion follows of the nature and limits of the relationship between the two notions, with largely negative verdicts on the prospects for any reduction of one to the other, although the existence of an apparently random sequence of outcomes is good evidence for the involvement of a genuinely chancy process.



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Antony Eagle
University of Adelaide

Citations of this work

Interpretations of probability.Alan Hájek - 2007 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Chance versus Randomness.Antony Eagle - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The ergodic hierarchy.Roman Frigg & Joseph Berkovitz - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Equivalence of Definitions of Algorithmic Randomness.Christopher Porter - 2021 - Philosophia Mathematica 29 (2):153–194.

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References found in this work

Time and Chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Harvard University Press.
Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.
A subjectivist’s guide to objective chance.David K. Lewis - 1980 - In Richard C. Jeffrey (ed.), Studies in Inductive Logic and Probability, Volume II. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 263-293.

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