International Statistical Review

Reading Keynes' Treatise on Probability

Journal Article


A Treatise on Probability was published by John Maynard Keynes in 1921. The Treatise contains a critical assessment of the philosophical foundations of probability and of the statistical methodology at the time. We review the aspects of the book that are most related with statistics, avoiding uninteresting neophyte's forrays into philosophical issues. In particular, we examine the arguments provided by Keynes against the Bayesian approach, as well as the sketchy alternative of a return to Lexis' theory of analogies he proposes. Our conclusion is that the Treatise is a scholarly piece of work looking at past advances rather than producing directions for the future.

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