Emergent Chance

Philosophical Review 124 (1):119-152 (2015)
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Abstract

We offer a new argument for the claim that there can be non-degenerate objective chance (“true randomness”) in a deterministic world. Using a formal model of the relationship between different levels of description of a system, we show how objective chance at a higher level can coexist with its absence at a lower level. Unlike previous arguments for the level-specificity of chance, our argument shows, in a precise sense, that higher-level chance does not collapse into epistemic probability, despite higher-level properties supervening on lower-level ones. We show that the distinction between objective chance and epistemic probability can be drawn, and operationalized, at every level of description. There is, therefore, not a single distinction between objective and epistemic probability, but a family of such distinctions.

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Christian List
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München