Chance, Possibility, and Explanation

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1):axt041 (2013)
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Abstract

I argue against the common and influential view that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic. The problem with this view, I claim, is not that it conflicts with some antecedently plausible metaphysics of chance or that it fails to capture our everyday use of ‘chance’ and related terms, but rather that it is unstable. Any reason for adopting the position that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic is also a reason for adopting a much stronger, and far less attractive, position. I suggest an alternative account, according to which chances are probabilities that play a certain explanatory role: they are probabilities that explain associated frequencies. 1 Introduction2 A Paradigm Case3 The Incompatibilist’s Criterion4 Against the Incompatibilist’s Criterion5 The Explanatory Criterion6 Conclusion

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Nina Emery
Mount Holyoke College

Citations of this work

Laws and their instances.Nina Emery - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1535-1561.
The Nomic Likelihood Account of Laws.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (9):230-284.

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References found in this work

Deterministic Chance?Jonathan Schaffer - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):113-140.
Deterministic chance.Luke Glynn - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):51–80.
Measures, explanations and the past: Should ‘special’ initial conditions be explained?Craig Callender - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):195-217.
The big bad bug: What are the humean's chances?John Bigelow, John Collins & Robert Pargetter - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):443-462.

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