Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published December 2021 | public
Journal Article

Reviving frequentism


Philosophers now seem to agree that frequentism is an untenable strategy to explain the meaning of probabilities. Nevertheless, I want to revive frequentism, and I will do so by grounding probabilities on typicality in the same way as the thermodynamic arrow of time can be grounded on typicality within statistical mechanics. This account, which I will call typicality frequentism, will evade the major criticisms raised against previous forms of frequentism. In this theory, probabilities arise within a physical theory from statistical behavior of almost all initial conditions. The main advantage of typicality frequentism is that it shows which kinds of probabilities (that also have empirical relevance) can be derived from physics. Although one cannot recover all probability talk in this account, this is rather a virtue than a vice, because it shows which types of probabilities can in fact arise from physics and which types need to be explained in different ways, thereby opening the path for a pluralistic account of probabilities.

Additional Information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. part of Springer Nature 2021. Received 17 August 2020; Accepted 4 January 2021; Published 29 January 2021. I wish to thank Frederick Eberhardt, Christopher Hitchcock, and Charles Sebens for their helpful and detailed comments on previous drafts of this paper. I also wish to thank David Albert, Jeffrey Barrett, Detlef Dürr, Sheldon Goldstein, Dustin Lazarovici, Barry Loewer, Tim Maudlin, Isaac Wilhelm, and Nino Zanghì for many invaluable hours of discussions. I also thank the members of the Caltech Philosophy of Physics Reading Group, in particular Joshua Eisentahl and James Woodward. I want to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, which significantly improved the paper. Especially one of the anonymous reviewers spent considerable time and effort in the review process; I particularly thank this reviewer.

Additional details

August 22, 2023
October 23, 2023