I sketch a new constraint on chance, which connects chance ascriptions closely with ascriptions of ability, and more specifically with ‘can’-claims. This connection between chance and ability has some claim to be a platitude; moreover, it exposes the debate over deterministic chance to the extensive literature on (in)compatibilism about free will. The upshot is that a prima facie case for the tenability of deterministic chance can be made. But the main thrust of the paper is to draw attention to the connection between the truth conditions of sentences involving ‘can’ and ‘chance’, and argue for the context sensitivity of each term. Awareness of this context sensitivity has consequences for the evaluation of particular philosophical arguments for (in)compatibilism when they are presented in particular contexts.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Oxford
Publication date: June 1, 2011