Infinitesimal ChancesSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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It is natural to think that questions in the metaphysics of chance are independent of the mathematical representation of chance in probability theory. After all, chance is a feature of events that comes in degrees and the mathematical representation of chance concerns these degrees but leaves the nature of chance open. The mathematical representation of chance could thus, un-controversially, be taken to be what it is commonly taken to be: a probability measure satisfying Kolmogorov’s axioms. The metaphysical questions about chance seem to be left open by all this. I argue that this is a mistake. The employment of real numbers as measures of chance in standard probability theory brings with it commitments in the metaphysics of (objective) chance that are not only substantial but also mistaken. To measure chance properly we need to employ extensions of the real numbers that contain infinitesimals: positive numbers that are infinitely small. But simply using infinitesimals alone is not enough, as a number of arguments show. Instead we need to put three ideas together: infinitesimals, the non-locality of chance and flexibility in measurement. Only those three together give us a coherent picture of chance and its mathematical representation.