The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal

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JHU Press, 2015 - History - 520 pages
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How did we make reliable predictions before Pascal and Fermat's discovery of the mathematics of probability in 1654? What methods in law, science, commerce, philosophy, and logic helped us to get at the truth in cases where certainty was not attainable? In The Science of Conjecture, James Franklin examines how judges, witch inquisitors, and juries evaluated evidence; how scientists weighed reasons for and against scientific theories; and how merchants counted shipwrecks to determine insurance rates.

The Science of Conjecture provides a history of rational methods of dealing with uncertainty and explores the coming to consciousness of the human understanding of risk.

"A remarkable book. Mr. Franklin writes clearly and exhibits a wry wit. But he also ranges knowledgeably across many disciplines and over many centuries."—Wall Street Journal

"The Science of Conjecture opens an old chest of human attempts to draw order from havoc and wipes clean the rust from some cast-off classical tools that can now be reused to help build a framework for the unpredictable future."—Science

"Franklin's style is clear and fluent, with an occasional sly Gibbonian aside to make the reader chuckle."—New Criterion

James Franklin is a professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of New South Wales.

 

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Contents

1 The Ancient Law of Proof
1
Suspicion Halfproof and Inquisition
12
3 Renaissance Law
40
4 The Doubting Conscience and Moral Certainty
64
5 Rhetoric Logic Theory
102
6 Hard Science
131
7 Soft Science and History
162
Action and Induction
195
Insurance Annuities and Bets
258
11 Dice
289
12 Conclusion
321
The Survival of Unquantified Probability
362
Review of Work on Probability before 1660
373
Notes
385
Index
487
Copyright

Laws of God Laws of Nature
228

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About the author (2015)

James Franklin is a professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of New South Wales.

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