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Defusing Bertrand's paradox

Gyenis, Zalán and Rédei, Miklós ORCID: 0000-0001-5298-1443 (2015) Defusing Bertrand's paradox. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 66 (2). 349 - 373. ISSN 0007-0882

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Identification Number: 10.1093/bjps/axt036


The classical interpretation of probability together with the principle of indifference is formulated in terms of probability measure spaces in which the probability is given by the Haar measure. A notion called labelling invariance is defined in the category of Haar probability spaces; it is shown that labelling invariance is violated, and Bertrand’s paradox is interpreted as the proof of violation of labelling invariance. It is shown that Bangu’s ( [2010] ) attempt to block the emergence of Bertrand’s paradox by requiring the re-labelling of random events to preserve randomness cannot succeed non-trivially. A non-trivial strategy to preserve labelling invariance is identified, and it is argued that, under the interpretation of Bertrand’s paradox suggested in the paper, the paradox does not undermine either the principle of indifference or the classical interpretation and is in complete harmony with how mathematical probability theory is used in the sciences to model phenomena. It is shown in particular that violation of labelling invariance does not entail that labelling of random events affects the probabilities of random events. It also is argued, however, that the content of the principle of indifference cannot be specified in such a way that it can establish the classical interpretation of probability as descriptively accurate or predictively successful.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Oxford University Press
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2013 15:18
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2024 05:45

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