Events

I challenge a recent attempt by Antony Eagle to defend the possibility of deterministic chance. Eagle argues that statements of the form ‘x has a (non-trivial) chance to φ’ are equivalent in common usage (and in their truth-conditions) to those of the form ‘x can φ’. The effect of this claim on the debate about the compatibility of (non-trivial) chances with a deterministic world seems to be relatively straightforward. If ‘x has a chance to φ’ is equivalent to ‘x can φ’ and statements of the form ‘x can φ’ are able to be truthfully uttered in a deterministic world, then statements of the form ‘x has a chance to φ’ are also able to be truthfully uttered in such a world. Drawing upon the work of Angelika Kratzer and David Lewis, Eagle shows how our best semantic theories allow statements of the form ‘x can φ’ to be truthfully uttered in deterministic worlds. Under the assumption that the truth-makers of statements like ‘x has a chance to φ’ are objective chances, compatibilism about chance seems to follow. I argue, however, that we have reasons independent of the debate about compatibilism about chance to reject a semantic theory that yields the sort of results Eagle claims for the Kratzer-Lewis account. If we make the necessary modifications to our semantic theory, however, then compatibilism about chance follows only, if at all, with great difficulty.