Morality Principles for Risk Modelling: Needs and Links with the Origins of Plausible Inference

Solana-Ortega, Alberto; Solana, Vicente
December 2009
AIP Conference Proceedings;12/8/2009, Vol. 1193 Issue 1, p161
Conference Proceeding
In comparison with the foundations of probability calculus, the inescapable and controversial issue of how to assign probabilities has only recently become a matter of formal study. The introduction of information as a technical concept was a milestone, but the most promising entropic assignment methods still face unsolved difficulties, manifesting the incompleteness of plausible inference theory. In this paper we examine the situation faced by risk analysts in the critical field of extreme events modelling, where the former difficulties are especially visible, due to scarcity of observational data, the large impact of these phenomena and the obligation to assume professional responsibilities. To respond to the claim for a sound framework to deal with extremes, we propose a metafoundational approach to inference, based on a canon of extramathematical requirements. We highlight their strong moral content, and show how this emphasis in morality, far from being new, is connected with the historic origins of plausible inference. Special attention is paid to the contributions of Caramuel, a contemporary of Pascal, unfortunately ignored in the usual mathematical accounts of probability.


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