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Chance, indeterminacy, and explanation

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dc.contributor.advisor Brad Skow. en_US
dc.contributor.author Emery, Nina R. (Nina Rebecca) en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2012-09-13T19:02:32Z
dc.date.available 2012-09-13T19:02:32Z
dc.date.issued 2012 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/72921
dc.description Thesis (Ph. D. in Philosophy)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2012. en_US
dc.description "June 2012." Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 97-101). en_US
dc.description.abstract This thesis is about the philosophical and scientific significance of chance. Specifically, I ask whether there is a single notion of chance that both plays a well-defined scientific role and proves useful for various philosophical projects. I argue that there is, but that this notion of chance is importantly different from the one that we usually come across in the philosophical literature. In the first chapter, "Chance, Indeterminacy, and Explanation", I argue against the common and influential view that chances are those probabilities that arise when the fundamental laws are indeterministic. The problem with this view, I claim, is not that it conflicts with some antecedently plausible metaphysics of chance, but rather that it renders the distinction between chance and other sorts of probability incapable of playing any scientifically significant role. I suggest an alternative view, according to which chances are the probabilities that play a certain explanatory role-they are probabilities that explain associated frequencies. In the second chapter, "Chance, Explanation, and Measure", I build on the view that chances are the probabilities that play a certain explanatory role by developing an account of non-fundamental chances-chances that arise when the fundamental laws are deterministic. On this account, non-fundamental chances are objective measures over relevant classes of alternative possibilities. In the third chapter, "Chance and Counterfactuals", I show how the sort of chances I have argued for can play an important role in a very different sort of philosophical project. According to a number of recent arguments, one consequence of our current scientific theories is that most ordinary counterfactuals are not true. I argue that the best response to these arguments makes use of the non-fundamental chances that I have argued for in the first two chapters of the dissertation. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Nina R. Emery. en_US
dc.format.extent 101 p. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7582 en_US
dc.subject Linguistics and Philosophy. en_US
dc.title Chance, indeterminacy, and explanation en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.degree Ph.D.in Philosophy en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 809109461 en_US


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