Cambridge University Press (1990)
The Empire of Chance tells how quantitative ideas of chance transformed the natural and social sciences, as well as daily life over the last three centuries. A continuous narrative connects the earliest application of probability and statistics in gambling and insurance to the most recent forays into law, medicine, polling and baseball. Separate chapters explore the theoretical and methodological impact in biology, physics and psychology. Themes recur - determinism, inference, causality, free will, evidence, the shifting meaning of probability - but in dramatically different disciplinary and historical contexts. In contrast to the literature on the mathematical development of probability and statistics, this book centres on how these technical innovations remade our conceptions of nature, mind and society. Written by an interdisciplinary team of historians and philosophers, this readable, lucid account keeps technical material to an absolute minimum. It is aimed not only at specialists in the history and philosophy of science, but also at the general reader and scholars in other disciplines.