Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Klaas Landsman, Ellen van Wolde, Noortje ter Berg
    Pages 1-7 Open Access
  3. Christoph H. Lüthy, Carla Rita Palmerino
    Pages 9-47 Open Access
  4. Sebastiaan A. Terwijn
    Pages 49-66 Open Access
  5. Utz Weitzel, Stephanie Rosenkranz
    Pages 67-89 Open Access
  6. Jelle J. Goeman
    Pages 91-109 Open Access
  7. Ellen van Wolde
    Pages 131-149 Open Access
  8. Johannes M. M. H. Thijssen, David R. Loy
    Pages 151-169 Open Access
  9. Michiel van Elk, Karl Friston, Harold Bekkering
    Pages 171-185 Open Access
  10. Hans de Kroon, Eelke Jongejans
    Pages 197-214 Open Access
  11. Corjo Jansen
    Pages 233-247 Open Access
  12. Roeland van Hout, Pieter Muysken
    Pages 249-266 Open Access
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 267-276

About this book


This book presents a multidisciplinary perspective on chance, with contributions from distinguished researchers in the areas of biology, cognitive neuroscience, economics, genetics, general history, law, linguistics, logic, mathematical physics, statistics, theology and philosophy. The individual chapters are bound together by a general introduction followed by an opening chapter that surveys 2500 years of linguistic, philosophical, and scientific reflections on chance, coincidence, fortune, randomness, luck and related concepts.

A main conclusion that can be drawn is that, even after all this time, we still cannot be sure whether chance is a truly fundamental and irreducible phenomenon, in that certain events are simply uncaused and could have been otherwise, or whether it is always simply a reflection of our ignorance. Other challenges that emerge from this book include a better understanding of the contextuality and perspectival character of chance (including its scale-dependence), and the curious fact that, throughout history (including contemporary science), chance has been used both as an explanation and as a hallmark of the absence of explanation. As such, this book challenges the reader to think about chance in a new way and to come to grips with this endlessly fascinating phenomenon.


Chance and epistemology Chance and necessity in history Chance and randomness in nature Interpreting coincidence Psychology of chance Role of chance in genetics

Editors and affiliations

  • Klaas Landsman
    • 1
  • Ellen van Wolde
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious StudiesRadboud UniversiteitNijmegenThe Netherlands

About the editors

Klaas Landsman (1963) obtained his PhD in Theoretical High-Energy Physics from the University of Amsterdam in 1989 and was a research fellow at the University of Cambridge from 1989-1997. He has been a Full Professor of Mathematical Physics since 2001, currently holding this chair at Radboud University.

Ellen van Wolde (1954) studied in Nijmegen, Rome and Bologna. She was Full Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Tilburg (1992-2008), and since 2009 she has held the chair of Textual Sources of Judaism and Christianity at Radboud University. She is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and is a member of its Executive Board.

Bibliographic information


“This collection discusses the nature of chance, randomness, accident, and related concepts from a variety of scientific and humanistic perspectives. … Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; researchers and faculty.” (J. D. Martin, Choice, Vol. 54 (5), January, 2017)