The Subjective and the Objective

Sandy L. Zabell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


This chapter discusses the origins of the subjective-objective distinction in probability, and the reasons why the resulting debate over the nature of probability later took the form it did in the twentieth century. It argues that the explicit distinction between subjective and objective arose when it did because of a tension between two distinct scientific currents. On the one hand, the work of James and Daniel Bernoulli, Condorcet, Laplace, Poisson, and Quetelet dramatically extended the applications of mathematical probability to areas of pressing social concern, and thus for the first time made the nature and scope of probability an issue of interest and importance. Kant had attempted to steer a middle course between the extreme rationalism of Leibniz, and the extreme skepticism of Hume; one claimed in effect that all knowledge is objective, the other that all knowledge is subjective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhilosophy of Statistics
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780444518620
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)

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