Not limited to merely mathematics, probability has a rich and controversial philosophical aspect. _A Philosophical Introduction to Probability_ showcases lesser-known philosophical notions of probability and explores the debate over their interpretations. Galavotti traces the history of probability and its mathematical properties and then discusses various philosophical positions on probability, from the Pierre Simon de Laplace's “classical” interpretation of probability to the logical interpretation proposed by John Maynard Keynes. This book is a valuable resource for students in philosophy and mathematics and (...) all readers interested in notions of probability. (shrink)
This contribution claims that the two fundamental notions of causation at work in the health sciences are manipulative and mechanistic, and investigates what kinds of evidence matter for the assessment of causal relations. This article is a development of our 2007 article, ‘Plurality of Causality’, where we argue for a pluralistic account of causation with an eye to econometrics and a single medical example. The present contribution has a wider focus, and considers the notion of evidence within a whole range (...) of disciplines belonging to the health sciences. Section 1 addresses the relations between kinds of evidence and causal accounts, and it is shown how different notions of causation can be employed in various medical cases. Section 2 calls attention to issues crucial for any adequate epistemological theory of causation, such as the distinctions between types and tokens, observational and experimental regimes, explanation and prediction. Lastly, the notion of context is articulated, highlighted in its role in the assessment of causal links. All these issues are tackled in the framework of what we label a ‘bottom–up’ epistemology. (shrink)
Probability is the subject of considerable attention by Nagel, who devoted to it several writings. In the 1930s, Nagel put forward his “truth frequency” view of probability intended as a variant of the frequency theory minus the flaws to which this latter was susceptible. This paper illustrates how, according to Nagel, the issue of the meaning of probability should be addressed; Nagel’s criticism of the major interpretations of probability advanced in the literature, and the main traits of his “truth-frequency” theory.
Pragmatism, taken not just as a philosophical movement but as a way of addressing problems, strongly influenced the debate on the foundations of probability during the first half of the twentieth century. Upholders of different interpretations of probability such as Hans Reichenbach, Ernest Nagel, Rudolf Carnap, Frank Ramsey, and Bruno de Finetti, acknowledged their debt towards pragmatist philosophers, including Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, Clarence Irving Lewis, William Dewey and Giovanni Vailati. In addition, scientist-philosophers like Ernst Mach, Ludwig Boltzmann, Henri (...) Poincaré, Pierre Duhem, and Karl Pearson, who heralded a conception of science and knowledge at large that was close to pragmatism, were very influential in that debate. Among the main interpretations of probability – frequentism, propensionism, logicism and subjectivism -, the latter is no doubt the closest to the pragmatist outlook. This paper concentrates on three representatives of the subjective theory, namely Frank Ramsey, Bruno de Finetti and Émile Borel. (shrink)
One of the first to criticize the verifiability theory of meaning embraced by logical empiricists, Reichenbach ties the significance of scientific statements to their predictive character, which offers the condition for their testability. While identifying prediction as the task of scientific knowledge, Reichenbach assigns induction a pivotal role, and regards the theory of knowledge as a theory of prediction based on induction. Reichenbach's inductivism is grounded on the frequency notion of probability, of which he prompts a more flexible version than (...) that of Richard von Mises. Unlike von Mises, Reichenbach attempts to account for single case probabilities, and entertains a restricted notion of randomness, more suitable for practical purposes. Moreover, Reichenbach developed a theory of induction, absent from von Mises's perspective, and argued for the justification of induction. This article outlines the main traits of Reichenbach's inductivism, with special reference to his book Experience and prediction. (shrink)
Known as an upholder of subjectivism, Bruno de finetti (1906-1985) put forward a totally original philosophy of probability. This can be qualified as a combination of empiricism and pragmatism within an entirely coherent antirealistic perspective. The paper aims at clarifying the central features of such a philosophical position, Which is not only incompatible with any perspective based on an objective notion, But cannot be assimilated to other subjective views of probability either.
One of the first to criticize the verifiability theory of meaning embraced by logical empiricists, Reichenbach ties the significance of scientific statements to their predictive character, which offers the condition for their testability. While identifying prediction as the task of scientific knowledge, Reichenbach assigns induction a pivotal role, and regards the theory of knowledge as a theory of prediction based on induction. Reichenbach’s inductivism is grounded on the frequency notion of probability, of which he prompts a more flexible version than (...) that of Richard von Mises. Unlike von Mises, Reichenbach attempts to account for single case probabilities, and entertains a restricted notion of randomness, more suitable for practical purposes. Moreover, Reichenbach developed a theory of induction, absent from von Mises’s perspective, and argued for the justification of induction. This article outlines the main traits of Reichenbach’s inductivism, with special reference to his book Experience and prediction. (shrink)
Jan WoleĔski Kazimierz Twardowski and the Development of Philosophy of Science in Poland Kazimierz Twardowski studied with Brentano and followed his style of doing philosophy, in particular, the thesis that the method of philosophy is ...
Harold Jeffreys' ideas on the interpretation of probability and epistemology are reviewed. It is argued that with regard to the interpretation of probability, Jeffreys embraces a version of logicism that shares some features of the subjectivism of Ramsey and de Finetti. Jeffreys also developed a probabilistic epistemology, characterized by a pragmatical and constructivist attitude towards notions such as ‘objectivity’, ‘reality’ and ‘causality’. 1 Introductory remarks 2 The interpretation of probability 3 Jeffreys' probabilistic epistemology.
This volume broadens our concept of reasoning and rationality to allow for a more pluralistic and situational view of human thinking as a practical activity. Drawing on contributors across disciplines including philosophy, economics, psychology, statistics, computer science, engineering, and physics, _Reasoning, Rationality, and Probability_ argues that the search for strong theories should leave room for the construction of context-sensitive conceptual tools. Both science and everyday life, the authors argue, are too complex and multifaceted to be forced into ready-made schemata.
Probability as understood today, namely as a quantitative notion expressible by means of a function ranging in the interval between 0–1, took shape in the mid-17th century, and presents both a mathematical and a philosophical aspect. Of these two sides, the second is by far the most controversial, and fuels a heated debate, still ongoing. After a short historical sketch of the birth and developments of probability, its major interpretations are outlined, by referring to the work of their most prominent (...) representatives. The final section addresses the question of whether any of such interpretations can presently be considered predominant, which is answered in the negative. (shrink)
This paper suggests an integration of Wesley Salmon's mechanistic theory of causality with a manipulative account of causation of the kind that has been recently defended by Huw Price and Peter Menzies. Firstly, Salmon's view of causality is outlined, and the main issues of the debate around it are recollected. Secondly, the manipulative view of causality is sketched and the possibility of its integration with Salmon's theory is considered for the purpose of coping with some of the problems raised by (...) its critics. (shrink)
This paper investigates the kind of empiricism combined with an operationalist perspective that, in the first decades of our Century, gave rise to a turning point in theoretical physics and in probability theory. While quantum mechanics was taking shape, the classical (Laplacian) interpretation of probability gave way to two divergent perspectives: frequentism and subjectivism. Frequentism gained wide acceptance among theoretical physicists. Subjectivism, on the other hand, was never held to be a serious candidate for application to physical theories, despite the (...) fact that its philosophical back-ground strongly resembles that underlying quantum mechanics, at least according to the Copenhagen interpretation. The reasons for this are explored. (shrink)
The philosophy of science took shape as an autonomous discipline in the first decades of the Twentieth Century in connection with the movement known as logical positivism or logical empiricism. According to logical empiricists philosophy of science ought to perform a “rational reconstruction” aimed at exhibiting the logical structure of scientific theories and inferential processes involved in the acquisition of scientific knowledge. While focusing on the syntactical and semantical aspects of scientific language, logical empiricists left out of the realm of (...) the philosophy of science the sociological and psychological aspects of theory formation, as well as all methodological aspects belonging to experimentation. Starting from the early Sixties this conception gradually changed, and philosophy of science underwent a radical transformation, leading to a significant broadening of its scope. New issues and problems were addressed, belonging to fields neglected by the traditional approach. This paper sketches the main features of the discipline as it is understood today as opposed to its traditional outlook, and suggests that the term “philosophy of the sciences” is better suited than “philosophy of science” to describe its present state. (shrink)
The first part of the article deals with the theories of probability and induction put forward by Hans Reichenbach and Rudolf Carnap. It will be argued that, despite fundamental differences, Carnap's and Reichenbach's views on probability are closely linked with the problem of meaning generated by logical empiricism, and are characterized by the logico-semantical approach typical of this philosophical current. Moreover, their notions of probability are both meant to combine a logical and an empirical element. Of these, Carnap over the (...) years put more and more emphasis on the logical aspect, while for Reichenbach the empirical aspect has always been predominant. Seen in this light, Carnap's and Reichenbach's theories of probability can be taken to represent the Viennese and Berlinese mainstreams of the common logical empiricist approach. The second part of the article contrasts the position of these authors with that of the Bruno de Finetti, who is the main representative of the subjective interpretation of probability. Though the latter is sometimes associated with the position taken by Carnap in his late writings, it will be argued that the two are in many ways irreconcilable. (shrink)
The proceedings of a June 1995 conference in Luino, Italy. One poem and 16 papers explore various issues in the philosophy of science with an emphasis on the foundations of probability and statistics and quantum mechanics. The topics include subjective probability, Bayesian statistics, probability kinematics, causal decision making, and probability and realism in quantum mechanics. The problem of collecting new evidence and updating probability judgements are addressed in reference to different applications. No index. Reprinted from Erkenntnis vol. 45, nos. 2-3 (...) (1996). Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR. (shrink)
This volume sheds new light on the multifarious personality of Bruno de Finetti and his outstanding contributions not only to probability and statistics, but also to economics and philosophy. Rather than focusing on de Finetti's technical work on probability, the essays collected here address the philosophy underpinning all of de Finetti's writings, a view Richard Jeffrey labelled "radical probabilism". Special attention is devoted to de Finetti's ideas on economics, which are inspired by the same philosophical approach, while an effort is (...) made to highlight some lesser known aspects of de Finetti's production. The volume ends with an Appendix on de Finetti's book L'invenzione della verit (The invention of truth), written in 1934 and published in 2006, which contains an extensive presentation of de Finetti's philosophical viewpoint, revolving around the idea that our knowledge is the product of human thought, which in such enterprise is guided by considerations of utility, rather than metaphysical principles. (shrink)
Empirismo logico e gli inizi della filosofia della scienza -- Oltre l'empirismo logico -- I modi del ragionamento scientifico -- La probabilità -- La spiegazione scientifica -- Realismo e antirealismo scientifica -- Filosofie delle scienze -- Scienza e valore.
The papers collected here comprise the proceedings of a Workshop in honor ofMerrilee and Wes Salmon, held in Florence on May 17-18, 1996. The aim of the meeting was to pay homage to these two American scholars, whose contact with Italian and European Universities and Institutes had a major influence on "Continental" thought in the field of epistemology and probability. In fact, Merrilee and Wes spent various periods lecturing at the Universities of Bologna, Florence, Rome, Trieste, Catania and Pisa, as (...) well as in the University of Constance, where they helped to build a strong cultural "bridge" with the Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science. The Florence Center for the History and Philosophy of Science is particularly thankful to the Salmons for their ongoing cooperation and frequent visits. We must not forget that Wes Salmon was in the Florence Center and at the Philosophy Department of Florence, as visiting scholar, on many occasions, and that he made important contributions which have later appeared in Italian journals, such as Iride and Rivista di jilosojia. Merrilee was a speaker at the Conference on "Genetics, Linguistics, and Archaeology" (May 20-24,1991), organized by the Florence Center. Both Wes and Merrilee often enlivened the arguments of the initiatives they took part in. (shrink)
Le premier Congrès pour l’unité de la science qui s’est tenu à Paris en 1935 comprenait deux sessions, consacrées l’une à l’induction, l’autre aux probabilités. Des représentants éminents du mouvement pour une philosophie scientifique ont présenté des communications dans ces sessions: dans la première sont intervenus Hans Reichenbach, Moritz Schlick et Rudolf Carnap, dans la seconde, Reichenbach, Bruno de Finetti, Zygmunt Zawirski, Schlick et Janina Hosiasson, — dans cet ordre. Les sujets abordés concernaient la nature des lois scientifiques, le problème (...) du sens et le principe de l’empirisme, ainsi que des questions connexes portant sur la confirmation des hypothèses scientifiques. Sur la nature des probabilités, les principales interprétations étaient représentées, à savoir le logicisme, le fréquentisme et le subjectivisme. Fut également examinée la possibilité de construire une logique probabiliste. Ce chapitre passe en revue les différentes contributions présentées dans ces deux sessions, à partir du texte publié dans les actes du Congrès. (shrink)
Richard Jeffrey has labelled his philosophy of probability radical probabilism and qualified this position as Bayesian, nonfoundational and anti-rationalist. This paper explores the roots of radical probabilism, to be traced back to the work of Frank P. Ramsey and Bruno de Finetti.