Imprecise Probability and Chance

Erkenntnis 81 (3):561-586 (2016)
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Understanding probabilities as something other than point values has often been motivated by the need to find more realistic models for degree of belief, and in particular the idea that degree of belief should have an objective basis in “statistical knowledge of the world.” I offer here another motivation growing out of efforts to understand how chance evolves as a function of time. If the world is “chancy” in that there are non-trivial, objective, physical probabilities at the macro-level, then the chance of an event e that happens at a given time is \ until it happens. But whether the chance of e goes to one continuously or not is left open. Discontinuities in such chance trajectories can have surprising and troubling consequences for probabilistic analyses of causation and accounts of how events occur in time. This, coupled with the compelling evidence for quantum discontinuities in chance’s evolution, gives rise to a “continuity bind” with respect to chance probability trajectories. I argue that a viable option for circumventing the continuity bind is to understand the probabilities “imprecisely,” that is, as intervals rather than point values. I then develop and motivate an alternative kind of continuity appropriate for interval-valued chance probability trajectories.



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Anthony F. Peressini
Marquette University

Citations of this work

Causation, Probability, and the Continuity Bind.Anthony F. Peressini - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):881-909.

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References found in this work

Philosophical Papers Vol. II.David K. Lewis (ed.) - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Two concepts of causation.Ned Hall - 2004 - In John Collins, Ned Hall & Laurie Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. MIT Press. pp. 225-276.
What conditional probability could not be.Alan Hájek - 2003 - Synthese 137 (3):273--323.

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