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Faculty of Philosophy


D H Mellor The Matter of Chance

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D. H. Mellor

Cover of The Matter of Chance

The Matter of Chance

D. H. Mellor

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971, pp. xiii+190
A free PDF file of the book is available

This book develops an account of objective chances as properties of events (e.g. of coin tosses) defined by the degrees of belief (e.g. that the coin will land heads) which embody knowledge of those chances. The chances manifest propensities: dispositional properties of objects (e.g. a coin's bias). The account is applied to theories of radioactive decay and of how human death risk increases with age, and is used to show how knowledge of propensities underlies
apparently a priori derivations of classical chance distributions. Finally it shows how propensities entail indeterminism and are consistent with a Humean view of laws of nature.


1 The limits of personalism

2 Measuring partial belief

3 Frequencies and trials

4 Propensity

5 Half lives and the force of mortality

6 Imprecision and inexactness

7 Connectivity and classical propensities

8 Determinism and laws of nature


Updated 10 September 2019