Probability out of Determinism

Michael Strevens

in Probabilities in Physics

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577439
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191730603 | DOI:
Probability out of Determinism

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This chapter offers an account of objective physical probability in deterministic systems. The account is based on an approach to the explanation of probabilistic patterns in deterministic systems called the method of arbitrary functions. This method is appealing, as it promises to provide an account of physical probability on which probability assignments have the ability to support counterfactuals about frequencies. It is argued that the eponymous arbitrary functions are of little philosophical use, but that they can be substituted for facts about frequencies without losing the ability to provide counterfactual support. The result is an account of probability that has a ‘propensity-like’ look and feel. Yet it requires no supplement to the standard modern empiricist toolkit of particular matters of fact and principles of physical dynamics.

Keywords: probabilities; determinism; method of arbitrary functions; frequency; counterfactual support; objectivism

Chapter.  11973 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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