On Lewis's Objective Chance: 'Humean Supervenience Debugged'
Hoeffer (Carl)
Source: Mind, Volume 106, Number 422, April 1997, pp. 321-334(14)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In 1994, David Lewis and Ned Hall presented, in separate but closely connected articles, a solution to a problem that had preoccupied Lewis for over a decade.
  2. The problem involved an apparent contradiction that arises when one tries to ground the concept of objectively “chancy” events in an ontology guided by Lewis’s Humean supervenience1 (HS) and the associated Best System Analysis (BSA) of laws of nature.
  3. Broadly Humean analyses of objective chance are promising in important ways, and the BSA account of chances in particular has many virtues. Moreover, the problem at issue would seem to arise for any Humean analysis of chance. So, this problem of contradiction and the Lewis/Hall proposed solution are important in their own right, regardless of whether one subscribes to other aspects of Lewis’s philosophy.
  4. Plan
    1. In this first section, I will briefly review the problem.
    2. In §2, I will explain the solution Lewis and Hall propose.
    3. The final sections of the paper will offer some critical reflections on their solution, and suggest that a different solution may be more appropriate and faithful to the Humean motivations of Humean supervenience2.

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