[extropy-chat] what is probability?

gts gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 2 00:09:07 UTC 2007

On Mon, 01 Jan 2007 14:21:17 -0500, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net>  

> I recall that you and I could never agree on the (in)validity of qualia
> as a practical statement about "reality".  Do you think this is a
> variation on that theme?

Hmm, I doubt the two subjects have much in common, though it's an  
interesting thought!

> ... (A) doesn't even make sense...
> ... as it currently expressed it seems to imply that an objective  
> measurement is "because" of a subjective assessment.

Really? Here is statement (A) again:

"E is frequent because it is probable."

Here is the fully expanded version:

"Rain happens relatively frequently in the Amazon Rain Forest because rain  
there is relatively probable."

(The propensity theorists nod their heads in agreement. The frequency  
theorists say no, that can't be so, because in their view probability is  
defined as relative frequency and so cannot be the cause of it.)

I see no implication in my words that "probable" must be either a  
subjective or an objective assessment, any more than "frequent" must be a  
subjective or objective assessment.

You do realize I hope that neither the propensity theory nor the frequency  
theory define 'probability' (or 'probable') as a subjective assessment. On  
both views we can speak of events being 'probable' or 'frequent' without  
compromising the objectivist nature of the theories. We need only  
stipulate some minimum objective relative frequency to define 'frequent'  
and some minimum objective propensity to define 'probable'. This is  
implied but not explicit in my question.

I think you want to discuss and defend subjective Bayesianism, which is  
fine, but a direct lead-in to that debate was not my desire or intention.

As I tried to explain in my last message, the purpose of my simple  
question, (written in the common parlance in which 'likely' and 'probable'  
are synonyms!!), is to help the reader discover on his own a preference  
for one or another *objectivist* interpretation, while leaving open the  
question of subjectivism for some future exchange of messages.


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