November 22, 2021

A framework for non-fundamental chance

Alexander Meehan, Yale

Abstract:  Many authors have sought to make sense of special science probabilities as objective. An appeal of this approach is that it could provide a straightforward realist account of the success of chance models in actual science. But the view faces several challenges and questions, including (1) what unites these various special science probabilities as objective chances?, and (2) how autonomous are they from the fundamental dynamical chances? In this talk I propose a general framework for theorizing about chance that lets us make some headway on questions (1) and (2), without presuming a special metaphysical or physical commitment like the Humean Best Systems Analysis or Mentaculus. A key ingredient of the framework is the Parent Principle, which reduces to the Principal Principle and New Principle in relevant special cases, and induces coherence constraints between chances at different levels. Indeed I show that if we accept the Parent Principle together with standard constraints on rational credence, then a Mentaculus-type view already follows from two relatively straightforward assumptions about our world’s chances.