A Philosophical Guide to Chance : Physical Probability
It is a commonplace that scientific inquiry makes extensive use of probabilities, many of which seem to be objective chances, describing features of reality that are independent of our minds. Such chances appear to have a number of paradoxical or puzzling features: they appear to be mind-independent facts, but they are intimately connected with rational psychology; they display a temporal asymmetry, but they are supposed to be grounded in physical laws that are time-symmetric; and chances are used to explain and predict frequencies of events, although they cannot be reduced to those frequencies. This book offers an accessible and non-technical introduction to these and other puzzles. Toby Handfield engages with traditional metaphysics and philosophy of science, drawing upon recent work in the foundations of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics to provide a novel account of objective probability that is empirically informed without requiring specialist scientific knowledge.
- Electronic book text
- 05 Jun 2012
- CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
- 22 b/w illus.
'With Toby Handfield's wonderfully lucid and scrupulously fair guide to chance, philosophers at all levels now have an invaluable aid in coming to grips with this fundamental and beautiful area of philosophy. With a minimum of fussy technicality, and a maximum of clarity, readers are gently introduced to many topics in the physics and metaphysics of chance, even topics at the cutting edge of current research. Handfield's own sophisticated variety of anti-realism about chance will be of interest to even the most seasoned observers of this debate, and prompt much fruitful discussion.' Antony Eagle, University of Oxford 'This book is remarkably clear and unfailingly accessible, and will undoubtedly have its place on undergraduate reading lists.' J. T. M. Miller, The Philosophical Quarterly
Table of contents
1. The concept of chance; 2. The classical picture; 3. Ways the world might be; 4. Possibilities of thought; 5. Chance in phase space; 6. Possibilist theories of chance; 7. Actualist theories of chance; 8. Anti-realist theories of chance; 9. Chance in quantum physics; 10. Chance in branching worlds; 11. Time and evidence; 12. Debunking chance.