, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 371–416 | Cite as

Twenty-One Arguments against Propensity Analyses of Probability

  • Antony Eagle


I argue that any broadly dispositional analysis of probability will either fail to give an adequate explication of probability, or else will fail to provide an explication that can be gainfully employed elsewhere (for instance, in empirical science or in the regulation of credence). The diversity and number of arguments suggests that there is little prospect of any successful analysis along these lines.


Empirical Science Successful Analysis Propensity Analysis Dispositional Analysis Adequate Explication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Albert, D. Z.: 2000, Time and Chance, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong, D. M.: 1997, A World of States of Affairs, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  3. Arnauld, A. and P. Nicole: 1996, Logic or the Art of Thinking, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, translated and edited by Jill Vance Buroker.Google Scholar
  4. Carnap, R.: 1962, Logical Foundations of Probability, 2nd edn., University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  5. Clark, P.: 2001, 'Statistical Mechanics and the Propensity Interpretation of Probability', in J. Bricmont et al. (eds.), Chance in Physics: Foundations and Perspectives, Springer, Berlin, pp. 271–281.Google Scholar
  6. de Finetti, B.: 1964, 'Foresight: Its Logical Laws, Its Subjective Sources', in H. E. Kyburg, Jr. and H. E. Smokler (eds.), Studies in Subjective Probability, Wiley, New York, pp. 93–158.Google Scholar
  7. de Finetti, B.: 1974, Theory of Probability, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Dickson, W. M.: 1998, Quantum Chance and Non-Locality, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  9. Earman, J.: 1986, A Primer on Determinism, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  10. Eells, E.: 1983, 'Objective Probability Theory Theory', Synthese 57, 387–442.Google Scholar
  11. Fetzer, J. H.: 1971, 'Dispositional Probabilities', in R. Buck and R. Cohen (eds.), PSA 1970, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp. 473–482.Google Scholar
  12. Fetzer, J. H.: 1981, Scientific Knowledge, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  13. Field, H.: 2003, 'Causation in a Physical World', in M. J. Loux and D. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. Giere, R. N.: 1973, 'Objective Single-Case Probabilities and the Foundations of Statistics', in P. Suppes et al. (eds.), Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Vol. 4, North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 467–483.Google Scholar
  15. Giere, R. N.: 1976, 'A Laplacean Formal Semantics for Single Case Propensities', Journal of Philosophical Logic 5, 321–353.Google Scholar
  16. Gillies, D.: 2000, Philosophical Theories of Probability, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  17. Hacking, I.: 1965, The Logic of Statistical Inference, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  18. Hacking, I.: 1975, The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  19. Hájek, A.: 1997, 'Mises Redux'-Redux: Fifteen Arguments Against Finite Frequentism', Erkenntnis 45, 209–227.Google Scholar
  20. Hájek, A.: 2003a, 'Conditional Probability Is the Very Guide of Life', in H. E. Kyburg, Jr. and M. Thalos (eds.), Probability is the Very Guide of Life, Open Court, Chicago, pp. 183–203.Google Scholar
  21. Hájek, A.: 2003b, 'The Reference Class Problem is Your Problem Too', in B. Brown and F. Lepage (eds.), Truth and Probability, Kluwer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  22. Hájek, A.: 2003c, 'What Conditional Probability Could Not Be', Synthese 137, 273–323.Google Scholar
  23. Hájek, A.: unpublished, 'Fifteen Arguments Against Hypothetical Frequentism', MS., Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, CalTech.Google Scholar
  24. Howson, C.: 1984, 'Probabilities, Propensities and Chance', Erkenntnis 21, 279–294.Google Scholar
  25. Howson, C. and P. Urbach: 1993, Scientific Reasoning: the Bayesian Approach, 2 edn., Open Court, Chicago.Google Scholar
  26. Hughes, R. I. G.: 1989, The Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  27. Humphreys, P. W.: 1985, 'Why Propensities Cannot be Probabilities', Philosophical Review 94, 557–570.Google Scholar
  28. Ismael, J.: 1996, 'What Chances Could Not Be', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47, 79–91.Google Scholar
  29. Jackson, F. and R. Pargetter: 1982, 'Physical Probability as a Propensity', Noûs 16, 567–583.Google Scholar
  30. Jeffrey, R. C.: 1977, 'Mises Redux', in R. E. Butts and J. Hintikka (eds.), Basic Problems in Methodology and Linguistics, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp. 213–222.Google Scholar
  31. Jeffrey, R. C.: forthcoming, Subjective Probability (The Real Thing), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,*.pdf.Google Scholar
  32. King, J. C.: 1998, 'What is a Philosophical Analysis?', Philosophical Studies 90, 155–179.Google Scholar
  33. Kolmogorov, A. N.: 1956, Foundations of the Theory of Probability, 2 edn. Chelsea, New York.Google Scholar
  34. Kyburg, Jr., H. E.: 1974, 'Propensities and Probabilities', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 25, 358–375.Google Scholar
  35. Levi, I.: 1980, The Enterprise of Knowledge, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  36. Levi, I.: 1990, 'Chance', Philosophical Topics 18, 117–149.Google Scholar
  37. Lewis, D.: 1970, 'How to Define Theoretical Terms', Journal of Philosophy 67, 427–446.Google Scholar
  38. Lewis, D.: 1973, 'Causation', in Lewis (1986), pp. 159-213.Google Scholar
  39. Lewis, D.: 1980, 'A Subjectivist's Guide to Objective Chance', in Lewis (1986), pp. 83-132.Google Scholar
  40. Lewis, D.: 1986, Philosophical Papers, Vol. 2, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  41. Lewis, D.: 1994, 'Humean Supervenience Debugged', in Lewis (1999), pp. 224-246.Google Scholar
  42. Lewis, D.: 1997, 'Finkish Dispositions', in Lewis (1999), pp. 133-151.Google Scholar
  43. Lewis, D.: 1999, Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  44. Loewer, B.: unpublished, 'David Lewis' Humean Theory of Objective Chance', http: // Scholar
  45. Martin, C. B.: 1994, 'Dispositions and Conditionals', Philosophical Studies 44, 1–8.Google Scholar
  46. Martin, C. B.: 1997, 'On the Need for Properties: The road to Pythagoreanism and back', Synthese 112, 193–231.Google Scholar
  47. McCurdy, C. S. I.: 1996, 'Humphreys' Paradox and the Interpretation of Inverse Conditional Probability', Synthese 108, 105–125.Google Scholar
  48. Mellor, D. H.: 1971, The Matter of Chance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  49. Mellor, D. H.: 1995, The Facts of Causation, Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  50. Miller, D. W.: 1996, 'Propensities and Indeterminism', in A. O. Hear (ed.), Karl Popper: Philosophy and Problems, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 121–147.Google Scholar
  51. Milne, P.: 1985, 'Can there be a Realist Single Case Interpretation of Probability?', Erkenntnis 25, 129–132.Google Scholar
  52. Mumford, S.: 1998, Dispositions, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  53. Peirce, C. S.: 1910, 'Notes on the Doctrine of Chances', in J. Buchler (ed.), Philosophical Writings of Peirce, Dover, New York, pp. 164–173.Google Scholar
  54. Pollock, J. L.: 1990, Nomic Probability and the Foundations of Induction, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  55. Popper, K.: 1959a, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Hutchinson, London.Google Scholar
  56. Popper, K.: 1959b, 'A Propensity Interpretation of Probability', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10, 25–42.Google Scholar
  57. Popper, K.: 1990, A World of Propensities, Thoemmes, Bristol.Google Scholar
  58. Prior, E. W., R. Pargetter, and F. Jackson: 1982, 'Three Theses About Dispositions', American Philosophical Quarterly 19, 251–257.Google Scholar
  59. Ramsey, F. P.: 1990, 'Truth and Probability', in Philosophical Papers, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 52–94.Google Scholar
  60. Reichenbach, H.: 1949, The Theory of Probability, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  61. Salmon, W. C.: 1979, 'Propensities: a Discussion Review of Mellor (1971)', Erkenntnis 14, 183–216.Google Scholar
  62. Schervish, M. J., T. Seidenfeld, and J. B. Kadane: 1984, 'The Extent of Non-Conglomerability of Finitely Additive Probability', Zeitschrift für Wahrscheinlichkeitstheorie und Verwandte Gebiete 66, 205–226.Google Scholar
  63. Shoemaker, S.: 1980, 'Causality and Properties', in P. van Inwagen (ed.), Time and Cause, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  64. Sklar, L.: 1993, Physics and Chance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  65. Strevens, M.: 1998, 'Inferring Probabilities From Symmetries', Noûs 32, 231–246.Google Scholar
  66. Tooley, M.: 1987, Causation: a Realist Approach, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  67. van Fraassen, B. C.: 1980, The Scientific Image, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  68. van Fraassen, B. C.: 1989, Laws and Symmetry, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  69. van Fraassen, B. C.: 1990, 'Figures in a Probability Landscape', in J. M. Dunn and A. Gupta (eds.), Truth or Consequences, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 345–356.Google Scholar
  70. van Fraassen, B. C.: 1991, Quantum Mechanics: An Empiricist View, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  71. von Mises, R.: 1957, Probability, Statistics and Truth, Dover, New York.Google Scholar
  72. Walley, P.: 1991, Statistical Reasoning with Imprecise Probabilities, Chapman and Hall, London.Google Scholar
  73. Weiner, M. and N. Belnap: forthcoming, 'How Causal Probabilities Might Fit into Our Objectively Indeterministic World'.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antony Eagle

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations