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Underdetermination of infinitesimal probabilities

  • Alexander R. PrussEmail author


A number of philosophers have attempted to solve the problem of null-probability possible events in Bayesian epistemology by proposing that there are infinitesimal probabilities. Hájek (Synthese 137:273–323, 2003) (more tentatively) and Easwaran (Philos Rev 123:1–41, 2014) (more definitively) have argued that because there is no way to specify a particular hyperreal extension of the real numbers, solutions to the regularity problem involving infinitesimals, or at least hyperreal infinitesimals, involve an unsatisfactory ineffability or arbitrariness. The arguments depend on the alleged impossibility of picking out a particular hyperreal extension of the real numbers and/or of a particular value within such an extension due to the use of the Axiom of Choice. However, it is false that the Axiom of Choice precludes a specification of a hyperreal extension—such an extension can indeed be specified. Moreover, for all we know, it is possible to explicitly specify particular infinitesimals within such an extension. Nonetheless, I prove that because any regular probability measure that has infinitesimal values can be replaced by one that has all the same intuitive features but other infinitesimal values, the heart of the arbitrariness objection remains.


Infinitesimals Hyperreals Bayesianism Probability Regularity Set theory Axiom of Choice Saturated models Underdetermination 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Baylor UniversityWacoUSA

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