History of Science & Knowledge

Classical Probability in the Enlightenment


May 11, 2021
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What did it mean to be reasonable in the Age of Reason? Classical probabilists from Jakob Bernouli through Pierre Simon Laplace intended their theory as an answer to this question — as “nothing more at bottom than good sense reduced to a calculus,” in Laplace’s words. In terms that can be easily grasped by nonmathematicians, Lorraine Daston demonstrates how this view profoundly shaped the internal development of probability theory and defined its applications.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the 1989 Pfizer Most Outstanding Book Award of the History of Science Society