Minds and Machines

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 273–288 | Cite as

The Metaphysical Character of the Criticisms Raised Against the Use of Probability for Dealing with Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence



In artificial intelligence (AI), a number of criticisms were raised against the use of probability for dealing with uncertainty. All these criticisms, except what in this article we call the non-adequacy claim, have been eventually confuted. The non-adequacy claim is an exception because, unlike the other criticisms, it is exquisitely philosophical and, possibly for this reason, it was not discussed in the technical literature. A lack of clarity and understanding of this claim had a major impact on AI. Indeed, mostly leaning on this claim, some scientists developed an alternative research direction and, as a result, the AI community split in two schools: a probabilistic and an alternative one. In this article, we argue that the non-adequacy claim has a strongly metaphysical character and, as such, should not be accepted as a conclusive argument against the adequacy of probability.


Artificial intelligence Probability Alternative approaches Randomness Uncertainty 



Carlotta Piscopo acknowledges the support of a Training Site fellowship funded by the Improving Human Potential (IHP) programme of the Commission of the European Community, Grant HPMT-CT-2000-00032. Mauro Birattari acknowledges support from the fund for scientific research F.R.S.—FNRS of Belgium’s French Community, of which he is a Research Associate.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IRIDIA, CoDEUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

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