, Volume 191, Issue 15, pp 3525–3540 | Cite as

Regular probability comparisons imply the Banach–Tarski Paradox

  • Alexander R. Pruss


Consider the regularity thesis that each possible event has non-zero probability. Hájek challenges this in two ways: (a) there can be nonmeasurable events that have no probability at all and (b) on a large enough sample space, some probabilities will have to be zero. But arguments for the existence of nonmeasurable events depend on the axiom of choice (AC). We shall show that the existence of anything like regular probabilities is by itself enough to imply a weak version of AC sufficient to prove the Banach–Tarski Paradox on the decomposition of a ball into two equally sized balls, and hence to show the existence of nonmeasurable events. This provides a powerful argument against unrestricted orthodox Bayesianism that works even without AC. A corollary of our formal result is that if every partial order extends to a total preorder while maintaining strict comparisons, then the Banach–Tarski Paradox holds. This yields an argument that incommensurability cannot be avoided in ambitious versions of decision theory.


Set theory Axiom of choice Probability Regularity Bayesianism Incommensurability Credence  Rationality Decision theory Nonmeasurable sets 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Baylor UniversityWacoUSA

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