2.44 Chance

Category: Philosophy of Science

Keywords: chances, chance, probability, probabilities, prob, frequency, random, probable, frequencies, sample, coin, probabilistic, propensity, bayesian, distributions

Number of Articles: 507
Percentage of Total: 1.6%
Rank: 12th

Weighted Number of Articles: 398.2
Percentage of Total: 1.2%
Rank: 25th

Mean Publication Year: 1977
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1979.4
Median Publication Year: 1978
Modal Publication Year: 2007

Topic with Most Overlap: Theory Testing (0.053)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Theory Testing (0.0731)
Topic with Least Overlap: Emotions (0.00027)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Belief Ascriptions (0.00039)


Figure 2.104: Chance

Chance Articles in Each Journal

Figure 2.105: Chance Articles in Each Journal


I’ve called this Chance, and it does have a lot to do with chance, but a more perspicuous name would be Philosophers of Science talk about Probability. Because the big difference between this and Formal Epistemology is that the folks here are philosophers of science, and the folks there are epistemologists. There are a lot of papers about chance in here - the second characteristic article is Michael Strevens responding to David Lewis’s revision of the Principal Principle - but there are also a lot of papers about probabilistic reasoning in scientific methdology.

Now I was very surprised that the model could tell the difference between the philosophy of science articles and the epistemology articles. I have a reasonably strong “know-it-when-I-see-it” sense of how philosophy of probability gets divided up into philosophy of science and epistemology. But I wasn’t sure it was anything more than a set of gut reactions/prejudices, and I would not have expected at all that a machine learning algorithm could replicate it. Yet here we are - the model really did do a very good job of splitting them up.

It’s not like it doesn’t think the two are connected. This topic and Formal Epistemology are two of the closest connected topics. But it does just enough to tell them apart. We can see this by looking at two David Lewis articles.

Table 2.9: David Lewis (1994) “Humean Supervenience Debugged” Mind 103:473-490.
Subject Probability
Chance 0.3773
Ordinary Language 0.1908
Composition and Constitution 0.0641
Time 0.0627
Laws 0.0616
Modality 0.0488
Thermodynamics 0.0370
Formal Epistemology 0.0231
Table 2.10: David Lewis (2001) “Sleeping Beauty: Reply To Elga” Analysis 61:171-176.
Subject Probability
Formal Epistemology 0.7362
Arguments 0.0639
Chance 0.0599
Theory Testing 0.0452
Modality 0.0421
Time 0.0352

That’s pretty good; in each case the model gives the intended topic 10 times the probability it gives the unintended topic. It’s not perfect; I really don’t know why it thinks the Sleeping Beauty paper is just about as likely to be a Modality article as the Humean Supervenience article. But this is a quibble; I’m really happy that the model found this distinction. It made looking at the splits between Epistemology and Philosophy of Science much easier.