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Keynes, Boole and the interval approach to probability


  • Michael Emmett Brady

    () (California State University - Department of Operations Management)

  • Rogério Arthmar

    () (Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo - Department of Economics)


This paper provides evidence on how Keynes devised a mathematical framework for his system of probability, which he called «approximation», in A Treatise on Probability, 1921. Keynes used standard conditional, mathematical probability to duplicate Boole’s results in the Challenge problem. He also showed how Boole’s approach would lead to the specification of interval estimates. It is also demonstrated that Keynes provided a solid mathematical structure for his nonlinear, non-additive decision theory. We suggest he should be recognized as the founder of the modern nonadditive, nonlinear approach to probability.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Emmett Brady & Rogério Arthmar, 2012. "Keynes, Boole and the interval approach to probability," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 20(3), pages 65-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:20:y:2012:3:6:p:65-84

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sargent, Thomas J. & Wallace, Neil, 1976. "Rational expectations and the theory of economic policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 169-183, April.
    2. Tony Lawson, 2009. "The current economic crisis: its nature and the course of academic economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 759-777, July.
    3. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1999. "Macroeconomics of Self-fulfilling Prophecies, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262062038, July.
    4. Meacci, Ferdinando & Caldari, Katia, 2007. "Errors in Time as Causes of Economic Fluctuations: An Introduction," MPRA Paper 11703, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Kregel, J A, 1976. "Economic Methodology in the Face of Uncertainty: The Modelling Methods of Keynes and the Post-Keynesians," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 86(342), pages 209-225, June.
    6. Ferdinando Meacci, 2009. "Uncertainty And Expectations In Shackle'S Theory Of Capital And Interest," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 302-323, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcello Basili, 2013. "Ellsberg Rules and Keynes’s State of Long-Term Expectation: More Than an Accordance," Department of Economics University of Siena 685, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    2. Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2014. "Frank Ramsey," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2014_17, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).

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