the probabilities of the next throw. But I am not very happy about my position. I think I should look into the philosophical and perhaps mathematical treatments of randomness to see if what I am saying does not involve an elementary blunder.
Ernest Nagel, Columbia University
Whether the occurrence of every discriminable event is determined, whether for every event there is a unique set of conditions without whose presence the event would not take place, and whether if conditions of a specified kind are given an event of a certain type will invariably happen, are variant forms of a question that cannot be settled by a priori arguments. Nor do I think the question can be answered definitively and finally, even on the basis of factual evidence; for, as I shall presently suggest, the question is best construed as dealing with a rule of procedure for the conduct of cognitive inquiry, rather than with a thesis concerning the constitution of the world. I am therefore not convinced by Professor Blanshard's acute argument attempting to show that an answer to the question other than an affirmative one is indefensible, if not unintelligible. Moreover, his assertion that even in deductive thinking and artistic invention each step is necessitated by the logical and aesthetic relations that exercise a power over the mind seems to me untenable-- if it is admitted as relevant to his major contention. For his assumption that logical and aesthetic relations (as distinct from apprehensions of such relations) may be said to engage in causal action attributes causal efficacy to something that, in no recognizable and identifiable sense of the phrase, can exercise such agency.
Nevertheless, the belief in determinism is not unfounded; and it would be just silly to maintain that in no area of experience can we