Date of Award

2012

First Advisor

Samuel Ruhmkorff

Second Advisor

Brian Conolly

Third Advisor

Paul Shields

Abstract

In this essay, I discuss various attempts to account for the relationship between physical probability attributions and the structure of the world. Starting with basic intuitions about the concept of probability, I address the following questions: what are the truthmakers for probability statements? How do we know a particular probability assignment is the ‘correct’ one? Furthermore, what does ‘correct’ mean for probabilities? What does it mean for a system to have a particular probability to display a certain property? I establish a set of criteria for evaluating interpretations of probability for their effectiveness at describing and explaining the role of probability in science, quantum mechanics in particular. I conclude that an objective interpretation is required, and that propensity interpretation and the best systems analysis are comparably effective.

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