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Rational Decisions by Ken Binmore

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5

Classical Probability

5.1 Origins

Probability doesn’t come naturally to the human species. The ancients never came up with the idea at all, although they enjoyed gambling games just as much as we do. It was only in the seventeenth century that probability saw the light of day. The Chevalier de Méré will always be remembered for proposing a problem about gambling odds that succeeded in engaging the attention of two great mathematicians of the day, Pierre de Fermat and Blaise Pascal. Some of the letters they exchanged in 1654 still survive.1 It is fascinating to learn how difficult they found ideas that we teach to school children as though they were entirely unproblematic.

Ian Hacking’s (1975) Emergence of Probability documents how the pioneering ...

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