The most familiar philosophical conception of objective chance renders determinism incompatible with non-trivial chances. This conception - associated in particular with the work of David Lewis - is not a good fit with our use of the word chance and its cognates in ordinary discourse. In this paper we show how a generalized framework for chance can reconcile determinism with non-trivial chances, and provide for a more charitable interpretation of ordinary chance-talk. According to our proposal, variation in an admissible evidence base generates a spectrum of different chance functions. Successive coarse-grainings of the evidence base generates a partial ordering of chance functions, with finer trumping coarser if known. We suggest that chance-attributions in ordinary discourse express different chance functions in different contexts, and we sketch a potential contextual mechanism for making particular chance functions salient. The mechanism involves the idea that admissible evidence is available evidence: propositions that could be known. A consequence is that attributions of objective chances inherit the relatively familiar context-sensitivity associated with the modal could . We show how this context-dependency undermines certain arguments for the incompatibility of chance with determinism.
|Title of host publication||Chance and Temporal Asymmetry|
|Place of Publication||Oxford UK|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Pages||19 - 44|
|Number of pages||26|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|