Chance, determinism, and unsettledness
A previously unrecognised argument against deterministic chance is introduced. The argument rests on the twin ideas that determined outcomes are settled, while chancy outcomes are unsettled, thus making cases of determined but chancy outcomes impossible. Closer attention to tacit assumptions about settledness makes available some principled lines of resistance to the argument for compatibilists about chance and determinism. Yet the costs of maintaining compatibilism may be higher with respect to this argument than with respect to existing incompatibilist arguments.
KeywordsChance Determinism Unsettledness Indeterminacy Laws Undermining Context-dependence
This paper has its origins in a talk presented at the Determinism, Probability and Conditionals workshop at the ANU in July 2015, supported by the Thinking Trust Endowment. The written version was prepared while I was visiting the Munich Centre for Mathematical Philosophy, supported by a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. I am grateful to the ANU audience, and to anonymous referees for this journal and another, for comments that have improved the paper.
Funding was provided by Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (AUS 1185645 HFST-E).
- Barnes, E., & Williams, J. R. G. (2011). A theory of metaphysical indeterminacy. In K. Bennett & D. W. Zimmerman (Eds.), Oxford studies in metaphysics (Vol. 6, pp. 103–148). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603039.001.0001.
- Clark, P. (1987). Determinism and probability in physics. In Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, supplementary volume (Vol. 61, pp. 185–210). http://www.jstor.org/stable/4106837.
- Eagle, A. (2014). Is the past a matter of chance? In A. Wilson (Ed.), Chance and temporal asymmetry (pp. 126–158). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673421.003.0007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Frigg, R. (2016). Chance and determinism. In C. R. Hitchcock & A. Hájek (Eds.), Oxford handbook of probability and philosophy (pp. 460–474). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Handfield, T., & Wilson, A. (2014). Chance and context. In A. Wilson (Ed.), Chance and temporal asymmetry (pp. 19–44). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673421.003.0001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hawthorne, J., & Lasonen-Aarnio, M. (2009). Knowledge and objective chance. In P. Greenough & D. Pritchard (Eds.), Oxford, pp. 92–108. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287512.001.0001.
- Ismael, J. T. (1996). What chances could not be. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 47(1), 79–91. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/47.1.76.
- Ismael, J. T. (2009). Probability in deterministic physics. Journal of Philosophy, 106(2), 89–108. https://doi.org/10.5840/jphil2009106214.
- Kratzer, A. (2012). The Notional Category of Modality. In Modals and Conditionals: New and Revised Perspectives (pp. 27–69). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199234684.001.0001.
- Lange, M. (2009). Laws and lawmakers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Levi, I. (1980). The enterprise of knowledge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D. (1981). Are we free to break the laws? Theoria, 47(3), 113–121. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-2567.1981.tb00473.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lewis, D. (1986). A subjectivist’s guide to objective chance. In Philosophical Papers (Vol. 2, pp. 83–132). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D. (1994). Humean supervenience debugged. Mind, 103, 473–490. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2254396.
- Routley, R., & Montgomery, H. (1966). Contingency and non-contingency bases for normal modal logics. Logique Et Analyse, 35–36, 318–328.Google Scholar
- Stalnaker, R. (1975). Indicative conditionals, 5(3), 269–86. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02379021.