F. Y. Edgeworth's Treatise on Probabilities
Probability theory has a central role in Edgeworth's thought; this article examines the philosophical foundation of the theory. Starting from a frequentist position, Edgeworth introduced some innovations to the definition of primitive probabilities. He distinguished between primitive probabilities based on experience of statistical evidence, and primitive a priori probabilities based on a more general and less precise kind of experience, inherited by the human race through evolution. Given primitive probabilities, no other devices than the rules of calculus of probabilities are necessary for inferring complex probabilities, as the ones defined by Bayes's theorem—an enlargement of the frequentist tradition as defined by Venn. The notion of probability is objective; the passage from the objective sphere to the epistemic one requires rules external to the theory of probability. Edgeworth distinguishes between two notions: credibility, which is the direct translation of probability into the epistemic sphere and which obeys the same rules of the latter; and belief, which has a weak relation with probability, based as it is not only on experiential knowledge, but also on “instinct and sentiment.” According to a nineteenth-century tradition, belief is the base of human action; Edgeworth concludes therefore that probability is not useful for the theory of decision. We propose to classify Edgeworth's theory of probability as precursor of modern eclectic or pluralistic tradition on probability, and according to which probability has an irreducible dualistic nature.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (919) 660-1800
Fax: (919) 684-8974
Web page: http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?viewby=journal&productid=45614
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Alberto Baccini, 2004. "High pressure and black clouds: Keynes and the frequentist theory of probability," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(5), pages 653-666, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:41:y:2009:i:1:p:143-162. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.