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This month, we talk with Anubav Vasudevan (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago) about whether there’s any conflict between objective probability and determinism.  Click here to listen to our conversation.

Suppose I say there’s a 5050 chance that when I toss a coin, it will land heads.  Is that statement objectively true or false?  Am I describing a physical fact about the coin, the air, and the tabletop?  Or is it just a subjective statement about how _certain _I am that the coin will land heads?  Maybe, when I say there’s a 5050 chance that the coin will land heads, all I’m saying is that I have no particular reason to place a bet on one particular outcome over the other.  For all I know, either outcome is equally likely.  On the one model, when I talk about probabilities, I’m describing physical facts about the way the world works.  On the other, when I talk about probabilities, I’m describing my own ignorance.

In this week’s episode, Anubav Vasudevan argues that philosophers have tended to dismiss the idea that future events have objective probabilities because they intuitively feel that it’s incompatible with determinism, the idea that all future events are determined by the state of the present.  But Vasudevan thinks the predominant intuition is off base: in fact, these two ideas are perfectly compatible, and thus my belief that the world is either deterministic or indeterministic shouldn’t affect my belief one way or the other about whether probabilities are objective or subjective.

Tune in to hear an exciting new argument for why!

Matt Teichman