Probability as a Measure of Information Added



Milne P (2012) Probability as a Measure of Information Added. Journal of Logic, Language and Information, 21 (2), pp. 163-188.;

Some propositions add more information to bodies of propositions than do others. We start with intuitive considerations on qualitative comparisons of information added. Central to these are considerations bearing on conjunctions and on negations. We find that we can discern two distinct, incompatible, notions of information added. From the comparative notions we pass to quantitative measurement of information added. In this we borrow heavily from the literature on quantitative representations of qualitative, comparative conditional probability. We look at two ways to obtain a quantitative conception of information added. One, the most direct, mirrors Bernard Koopman's construction of conditional probability: by making a strong structural assumption, it leads to a measure that is, transparently, some function of a function P which is, formally, an assignment of conditional probability (in fact, a Popper function). P reverses the information added order and mislocates the natural zero of the scale so some transformation of this scale is needed but the derivation of P falls out so readily that no particular transformation suggests itself. The Cox-Good-Aczél method assumes the existence of a quantitative measure matching the qualitative relation, and builds on the structural constraints to obtain ameasure of information that can be rescaled as, formally, an assignment of conditional probability. A classical result of Cantor's, subsequently strengthened by Debreu, goes some way towards justifying the assumption of the existence of a quantitative scale. What the two approaches give us is a pointer towards a novel interpretation of probability as a rescaling of a measure of information added.

Information; Probability; Comparative probability; Koopman; Cox

Journal of Logic, Language and Information: Volume 21, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2012
Publication date online24/05/2011
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Publisher URL…a63e88d5e07ce9cd

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Professor Peter Milne

Professor Peter Milne

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy