The Work of Reason: An Architecture of Human Knowledge

  1. Logic of Logic

By the Logic of Logic will be meant
(a) Ontology, or Metaphysics, the theory of what there is or what there can be;

(b) Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, the theory of how we know or can know or can acquire knowledge about what there is, our knowledge being indefinitely varied in kind across mathematics, science, engineering, ethics, politics, economics, aesthetics, religion, etc.

7. Probability

A footballer kicks the ball hard and straight towards its target, the goal. The goalie has seen it and is ready in place to block and collect it. But it accidentally hits a defensive player and ricochets into an unprotected corner of the goal…is that “Chance”? Or Luck? Good luck for one side, bad luck for the other…? (a real case from ISL 2021)

How fragile is life…a teenager cycles to her Sanskrit exam…is killed by a lorry trying to escape corrupt police… (a real case from 2017)


[Footnote Is it (objectively) worse that the teenager killed was cycling to a Sanskrit exam and not, say, a drug dealer? It is… Is it worse that the lorry killed her not due to some unpredictable mechanical failure but because it was avoiding corrupt police? It is..
A lorry kills a drug dealer accidentally due to mechanical failure isn’t as bad as if due to corruption it kills a girl going to an exam; a lorry accidentally kills a drug dealer is different from the same lorry due to corruption killing a girl going to her Sanskrit exam… What happened @WBPolice @MamataOfficial to the lorry driver who killed the girl cycling to her Sanskrit exam?…
Sanskrit a hard rich esoteric subject, the girl cycling to her Sanskrit exam must have been the pride of her family… The family expected her to come home safely, talk of how hard it was, aim for college, become a teacher, a mother herself… Instead she was killed by a speeding lorry trying to escape paying a bribe to the police…the family in sudden shock…]

The girl cycling to her Sanskrit exam, killed by a lorry trying to escape corrupt police. Is that “Chance” or Luck? Luck is Chance without any probability distribution…

Luck is Chance without any probability distribution…, I say… (and am reminded of Milton Friedman telling me decades ago he believed such a thing existed as luck, good or bad… )… It is bad luck for one team, good luck for the other that the ball ricochets off the defensive player into the goal…

There is no probability distribution… Or is there one lurking beneath? Can a team through, say, much practice, reduce its “bad luck” in defensive situations? Similarly, the girl killed cycling to her Sanskrit exam by a speeding lorry escaping corrupt police, is it a “one-off” event of bad luck or is there a probability distribution lurking beneath? Viz., if governance improved, corruption was reduced, the chance of such deaths falls?

These are two disparate cases of what might be called Random Events…. where there is no underlying probability distribution at least prima facie… (contrast the “Random Variable” usually seen in statistical/stochastic theory!)…

a Random Event is one of Chance without any probability distribution discernible prima facie… if upon inspection/scrutiny/study we think we find a probability distribution, it’s no longer a case of Chance, Randomness, Luck…but one of Causation…

There’s a world of difference between saying that B was a random event & saying that B was the result of or caused by something else called A… I.e. there’s Random/Chance/Luck in one corner without any probability distribution possible to be discerned; and there’s Causation and Probability in the opposite corner… I.e., a Random Event/case of Chance/Luck is one of 0 ex ante or prima facie probability… No one expected it or *could have* expected it

=> inspection/scrutiny/study follows:

— if that yields nothing, it remains Random

— if a probability distribution is detected/discerned, there’s Causation…

The end result of an inspection/ scrutiny/study is then

Either “We found nothing; B is a genuine Random Event”

Or “We found A might have caused B” …

Tackling probability theory seriously, using Keynes Jeffreys IJ Good Emile Borel and everyone else, is going to be very hard … stretching from good or bad luck in human situations to positions of particles in Quantum Mechanics… maybe a hundred different cases like the two above will illustrate…

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