F.Y. Edgeworth’s Treatise on Probabilities
Probability theory has a central role in Edgeworth’s thought; this paper examines the philosophical foundation of the theory. Starting from a frequentist position, Edgeworth introduced some innovations on 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 are necessary to infer 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 this 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 obeys the same rules of the latter; and belief having a weak relation with probability, based as it it 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.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2007|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Piazza S.Francesco,7 - 53100 Siena|
Web page: http://www.deps.unisi.it/
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Bénédicte Vidaillet & V. D'Estaintot & P. Abécassis, 2005. "Introduction," Post-Print hal-00287137, HAL.
- 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:usi:wpaper:494. 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: (Fabrizio Becatti)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.