Cambridge Catalogue  
  • Help
Home > Catalogue > The Taming of Chance
The Taming of Chance


  • Page extent: 284 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.59 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 123/.3
  • Dewey version: 20
  • LC Classification: BD595 .H33 1990
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Chance
    • Necessity (Philosophy)

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521380140 | ISBN-10: 0521380146)

In this important study Ian Hacking continues the enquiry into the origins and development of certain characteristic modes of contemporary thought undertaken in such previous works as the best-selling The Emergence of Probability. Professor Hacking shows how by the late-nineteenth century it became possible to think of statistical patterns as explanatory in themselves, and to regard the world as not necessarily deterministic in character. In the same period the idea of human nature was displaced by a model of normal people with laws of dispersion. These two parallel transformations fed into each other, so that chance made the world seem less capricious: it was legitimated because it brought order out of chaos. Combining detailed scientific historical research with characteristic philosophic breadth and verve, The Taming of Chance brings out the relations between philosophy, the physical sciences, mathematics and the development of social institutions, and provides a unique and authoritative analysis of the 'probabilisation' of the western world.


Acknowledgements; 1. The argument; 2. The doctrine of necessity; 3. Public amateurs, secret bureaucrats; 4. Bureaux; 5. The sweet despotism of reason; 6. The quantum of sickness; 7. The granary of science; 8. Suicide is a kind of madness; 9. The experimental basis of the philosophy of legislation; 10. Facts without authenticity, without detail, without control, and without value; 11. By what majority?; 12. The law of large numbers; 13. Regimental chests; 14. Society prepares the crimes; 15. The astronomical conception of society; 16. The mineralogical conception of society; 17. The most ancient nobility; 18. Cassirer's thesis; 19. The normal state; 20. As real as cosmic forces; 21. The autonomy of statistical law; 22. A chapter from Prussian statistics; 23. A universe of chance; Notes; Index.

printer iconPrinter friendly version AddThis