## Philosophy of Probability and Statistics

Cambridge
has made a contribution to the philosophy of probability and
statistics that is perhaps unrivalled. Some of the most important
thinkers in probability and statistics have worked here, including
John
Venn,
who developed the frequency theory of probability as well as Venn
diagrams; John
Maynard Keynes,
who worked on the foundations of probability theory, among many other
things; Frank
Ramsey,
who developed the notion of subjective probability; Sir
Ronald Fisher,
the founder of much of modern statistics, whose work has been of
great significance for genetics and evolutionary biology; and Sir
Harold Jeffreys
and Dennis
Lindley,
who made important contributions to Bayesian probability and
statistics.

More
recently, Richard
Braithwaite,
Ian
Hacking,
and Hugh
Mellor
have done fundamental work on the subject and the University remains
a centre for important research in the foundations of probability.
This research deals with ‘subjective’ questions about credence,
evidence, and confirmation: Can probabilities measure degrees of
belief? Do the rules of probability have some normative application
to changes
in belief? Do they have rational bearing on practical reasoning
(decision theory)? Other, ‘objective’ questions concern chance
and frequency: Is
there an empirically meaningful notion of chance? Does it place any
constraints on rational belief-formation or on rational choice? And
does the answer have implications for the interpretation of quantum
mechanics?

Across
the University, Cambridge continues to be a lively place for asking
important questions about the foundations of statistics too. In the
Statistical
Laboratory,
for example, David
Spiegelhalter
has examined the potential role of a subjectivist Bayesian approach
within everyday statistical practice. Meanwhile, Philip
Dawid
has investigated the logical bases of, and the relationships between,
several current approaches in statistics, as well as evidential and
causal reasoning from statistical data.

Arif
Ahmed

October
2012