Journal Article

Deterministic Chance

Luke Glynn

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 61, issue 1, pages 51-80
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Deterministic Chance

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I argue that there are non-trivial objective chances (that is, objective chances other than 0 and 1) even in deterministic worlds. The argument is straightforward. I observe that there are probabilistic special scientific laws even in deterministic worlds. These laws project non-trivial probabilities for the events that they concern. And these probabilities play the chance role and so should be regarded as chances as opposed, for example, to epistemic probabilities or credences. The supposition of non-trivial deterministic chances might seem to land us in contradiction. The fundamental laws of deterministic worlds project trivial probabilities for the very same events that are assigned non-trivial probabilities by the special scientific laws. I argue that any appearance of tension is dissolved by recognition of the level-relativity of chances. There is therefore no obstacle to accepting non-trivial chance-role-playing deterministic probabilities as genuine chances.


Schaffer's Incompatibilist Argument 2.1

Chance and credence


Chance and possibility


Chance and laws

Special Scientific Laws 3.1

Probabilistic special scientific laws in deterministic worlds


Lewis's Humean analysis of laws


Special scientific laws and the law role

Deterministic Chance 4.1

Chance and laws again


Chance and credence again


Chance and possibility again

Chance and Causation


Appendix: Times, Levels, and Chance Setups

Journal Article.  13119 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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