Article ID: CBB636100150

Laplaceanism Defended (2016)


This work is a critical consideration of several arguments recently given by Elliott Sober that are aimed at undermining the Laplacean stance on probability in evolutionary theory (and, by extension, the special sciences more broadly). The Laplacean contends that the only objective probability an event has is the one assigned to it by a complete description of the relevant microparticles. Sober alleges a formal demonstration that the Laplacean stance on probability in evolutionary theory is inconsistent. But Sober’s argument contains a crucial lacuna, one that likely cannot be repaired to yield the conclusion that Sober draws. He also argues that the Laplacean is committed to inferring semantic facts about probabilities from pragmatic facts about agents’ reasons for using probabilities. But Sober’s arguments against inferring semantic facts from pragmatic constraints would only undermine one basis for Laplaceanism. The Laplacean who formulates her position carefully need not leave herself vulnerable to Sober’s objection to inferring semantics from pragmatics.

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Authors & Contributors
Todhunter, Isaac
Schneider, Ivo H.
Wang, Youjun
Xu, Chuansheng
Qu, Anjing
Courgeau, Daniel
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
Journal of Dialectics of Nature
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
Thoemmes Press
Princeton University Press
Open University (United Kingdom)
Probability and statistics
Philosophy of biology
Natural selection
Laplace, Pierre Simon
Sober, Elliott R.
Pascal, Blaise
Darwin, Charles Robert
Poincaré, Jules Henri
Graunt, John
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
17th century
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
Académie des Sciences, Paris

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