Unscrambling Subjective and Epistemic Probabilities

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There are two notions in the philosophy of probability that are often used interchangeably: that of subjective probabilities and that of epistemic probabilities. This paper suggests they should be kept apart. Specifically, it suggests that the distinction between subjective and objective probabilities refers to what probabilities are, while the distinction between epistemic and ontic probabilities refers to what probabilities are about. After arguing that there are bona fide examples of subjective ontic probabilities and of epistemic objective probabilities, I propose a systematic way of drawing these distinctions in order to take this into account. In doing so, I modify Lewis’s notion of chances, and extend his Principal Principle in what I argue is a very natural way (which in fact makes chances fundamentally conditional). I conclude with some
remarks on time symmetry, on the quantum state, and with some more general remarks about how this proposal fits into an overall Humean (but not quite neo-Humean) framework.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQuantum, Probability, Logic
Subtitle of host publicationThe Work and Influence of Itamar Pitowsky
EditorsMeir Hemmo, Orly Shenker
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-34316-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-34315-6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameJerusalem Studies in Philosophy and History of Science
ISSN (Print)2524-4248
ISSN (Electronic)2524-4256


  • Subjective probabilities
  • Epistemic probabilities
  • Principal principle
  • Quantum state
  • Humeanism


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