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Galavotti, Maria Carla, , . The notion of subjective probability in the works of Ramsey and de Finetti
1991, Theoria 57 (3): 239-259.
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Introduction: The decade from the mid-twenties to the mid-thirties was undoubtedly the most crucial for the twentieth Century notion of subjective probability. It was in 1926 that Frank Ramsey wrote his essay ‘Truth and probability’, presented at the Moral Science Club in Cambridge and published posthumously in 1931. There he put forward for the first time a definition of probability as degree of belief, that had been anticipated only by E. Borel in 1924, in a review of J. M. Keynes’ Treatise on Ten years after Ramsey’s paper, namely in 1935, Bruno de Finetti gave a series of lectures at the Institut Poincare in Paris, published in 1937 under the title ‘La prévision: ses lois logiques, ses sources subjectives’. In this paper subjective probability, defined in a way analogous to that adopted by Ramsey, was implemented with the notion of exchangeability, that de Finetti had already worked out in 1928- 1930. Exchangeability confers applicability to the notion of subjective probability, and fills the gap between frequency and probability as degree of belief. It was only when these two were tied together that subjectivism could become a full-fledged interpretation of probability and gain credibility among probabilists and statisticians. One can then say that with the publication of ‘La prévision’ the formation process of a subjective notion of probability was completed.

Comment: This article is focused on subjective probability in the works of Ramsey and de Finetti even if the main part of the work is devoted to Ramsey. This text is crucial in order to understand the subjectivist line of thinking.

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