Friday, September 12, 2014

Gillies’ Philosophical Theories of Probability, Chapter 9

Chapter 9 of Donald Gillies’ Philosophical Theories of Probability (2000) is his conclusion and sets out his views on a “pluralist” theory of probability.

Gillies argues that an epistemological theory of probability is appropriate for the social sciences, but an objective theory for the natural sciences (Gillies 2000: 187).

Gillies in a fascinating section (Gillies 2000: 188–194) considers probability in economics. He concludes that, since the actions of economic agents cannot all be considered as independent of one another, their actions are often very much characterised by reaction to other people’s action or expected actions (Gillies 2000: 190). But, since the independence assumption is fundamental for the objective theory of probability, it follows that an objective theory of probability cannot apply to many economic situations or phenomena (Gillies 2000: 190). For example, in the instance of financial markets, general expectations might appear to predict an outcome since they have influenced the outcome (Gillies 2000: 196).

Gillies concludes with some methodological points. The subjective and intersubjective theories of probability use operationalism, but the objective long-run propensity theory rejects operationalism (Gillies 2000: 200).

External Links
“Interpretations of Probability,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002 (rev. 2011)

Gillies, D. A. 2000. Philosophical Theories of Probability. Routledge, London.

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