A Historical Summary of How a Severe Misinterpretation of the only Diagram in Keynes’s A Treatise on Probability in Chapter III on Page 39 Spread to Philosophers: From G. Meeks (1976) to S.Dow and V.Chick (2012) to S.Bradley(2019)
43 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 5, 2020
G. Meeks’s original analysis of the diagram on Page 39 (Page 42 of the CWJMK version in 1973) in chapter III of the A Treatise on Probability in 1976 erred in claiming that Keynes was illustrating ordinal,or rank order, probability measurement. Keynes was actually illustrating interval valued probability, not ordinal probability. Keynes made this very clear in chapter 15 of the A Treatise on Probability in Part II on pp.160-163, as well as in chapters 17, 20, 22, 26, 29, and 30, which all deal with Keynes’s method of inexact measurement and approximation, using lower and upper bounds.
Meeks never read Part II or Chapter 15 of the A Treatise on Probability. Meeks’s work was then passed down to R. Skidelsky, A. Carabelli, R. O’Donnell, and many, many other academics, who were attending or were associated with Cambridge University. From this stage, her erroneous work was passed down to S. Dow and V. Chick, and finally to S. Bradley.
This erroneous and mistaken view of Keynes’s operational approach to using probability in applications had never appeared in the work of any philosopher until it showed up in April of 2019 in an article published by S. Bradley for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Keywords: ordinal probability, interval probability, Boole, Keynes, Meeks, Cambridge University, Carabelli, O'donnell, Skidelsky, chapter III of the TP, chapter 15 of the TP
JEL Classification: B10, B12, B14, B18, B20, B22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation