Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 449–472 | Cite as

Non-monotonic Probability Theory and Photon Polarization

  • Fred Kronz


A non-monotonic theory of probability is put forward and shown to have applicability in the quantum domain. It is obtained simply by replacing Kolmogorov’s positivity axiom, which places the lower bound for probabilities at zero, with an axiom that reduces that lower bound to minus one. Kolmogorov’s theory of probability is monotonic, meaning that the probability of A is less then or equal to that of B whenever A entails B. The new theory violates monotonicity, as its name suggests; yet, many standard theorems are also theorems of the new theory since Kolmogorov’s other axioms are retained. What is of particular interest is that the new theory can accommodate quantum phenomena (photon polarization experiments) while preserving Boolean operations, unlike Kolmogorov’s theory. Although non-standard notions of probability have been discussed extensively in the physics literature, they have received very little attention in the philosophical literature. One likely explanation for that difference is that their applicability is typically demonstrated in esoteric settings that involve technical complications. That barrier is effectively removed for non-monotonic probability theory by providing it with a homely setting in the quantum domain. Although the initial steps taken in this paper are quite substantial, there is much else to be done, such as demonstrating the applicability of non-monotonic probability theory to other quantum systems and elaborating the interpretive framework that is provisionally put forward here. Such matters will be developed in other works.

Key words

Boolean operations probability quantum domain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

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