An empirical approach to symmetry and probability

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):27-40 (2010)
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Abstract

We often use symmetries to infer outcomes’ probabilities, as when we infer that each side of a fair coin is equally likely to come up on a given toss. Why are these inferences successful? I argue against answering this with an a priori indifference principle. Reasons to reject that principle are familiar, yet instructive. They point to a new, empirical explanation for the success of our probabilistic predictions. This has implications for indifference reasoning in general. I argue that a priori symmetries need never constrain our probability attributions, even when it comes to our initial credences.

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Jill North
Rutgers University - New Brunswick

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References found in this work

Laws and symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Time and chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Epistemic permissiveness.Roger White - 2005 - Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):445–459.

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