Chance, Possibility, and Explanation

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):95-120 (2015)
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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.

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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

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Laws and symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Four Dimensionalism.Theodore Sider - 1997 - Philosophical Review 106 (2):197-231.
Four Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time.Theodore Sider - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (3):642-647.

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