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A Philosophical Guide to Chance
Physical Probability

$30.99 (P)

  • Date Published: May 2012
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107607354

$ 30.99 (P)
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About the Authors
  • It is a commonplace that scientific inquiry makes extensive use of probabilities, many of which seem to be objective chances, describing features of reality that are independent of our minds. Such chances appear to have a number of paradoxical or puzzling features: they appear to be mind-independent facts, but they are intimately connected with rational psychology; they display a temporal asymmetry, but they are supposed to be grounded in physical laws that are time-symmetric; and chances are used to explain and predict frequencies of events, although they cannot be reduced to those frequencies. This book offers an accessible and non-technical introduction to these and other puzzles. Toby Handfield engages with traditional metaphysics and philosophy of science, drawing upon recent work in the foundations of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics to provide a novel account of objective probability that is empirically informed without requiring specialist scientific knowledge.

    • Defends a novel form of anti-realism about chance
    • Uses minimal formal notation and keeps technical details in separate boxes
    • Discusses and engages with a broad range of recent literature on the philosophy of chance, including work in the foundations of quantum mechanics
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "With Toby Handfield's wonderfully lucid and scrupulously fair guide to chance, philosophers at all levels now have an invaluable aid in coming to grips with this fundamental and beautiful area of philosophy. With a minimum of fussy technicality, and a maximum of clarity, readers are gently introduced to many topics in the physics and metaphysics of chance, even topics at the cutting edge of current research. Handfield's own sophisticated variety of anti-realism about chance will be of interest to even the most seasoned observers of this debate, and prompt much fruitful discussion."
    Antony Eagle, University of Oxford

    "This book is remarkably clear and unfailingly accessible, and will undoubtedly have its place on undergraduate reading lists."
    J. T. M. Miller, The Philosophical Quarterly

    "This is an excellent book. It is exceptionally clear and accessible, an ideal text for an undergraduate class on chance or the philosophy of physics. At the same time, it is cutting edge, critically engaging with and contributing to the recent literature on chance. Anyone interested in issues involving chance, whether ignorant of the literature or fully immersed in it, should get a copy."
    Christopher J. G. Meacham, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "… A Philosophical Guide to Chance is a stimulating, sharp and keenly argued book. The line of discussion is lucidly presented and well conceived."
    George Lăzăroiu, PhD, Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations

    "… [a] clearly written introductory study … Even though the analysis is informed by both classical and non-classical physics, an impressive feature of this study is its accessibility for most university students … Recommended …"
    L. C. Archie, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107607354
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 174 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The concept of chance
    2. The classical picture
    3. Ways the world might be
    4. Possibilities of thought
    5. Chance in phase space
    6. Possibilist theories of chance
    7. Actualist theories of chance
    8. Anti-realist theories of chance
    9. Chance in quantum physics
    10. Chance in branching worlds
    11. Time and evidence
    12. Debunking chance.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Free Will and Moral Responsibility
    • Philosophy of Physcs
    • Thomas Bittner
  • Author

    Toby Handfield, Monash University, Victoria
    Toby Handfield is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy, Monash University. He is the editor of Dispositions and Causes (2009).

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