Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Surprised?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010
In the section The propensity theories of Miller, the later Popper and Fetzer, I consider the propensity theories of Miller and the later Popper, and of Fetzer.
Donald Gillies
Philosophical Theories of Probability
Ch 6 §1 (p114)
In the section General arguments for interpreting probabilities in economcs as epistemological rather than objective, I will present some general arguments for interpreting probabilities in economcs as epistemological rather than objective.
Gillies, opus citatum
Ch 9 §1 (p187)
There's a huge amount of utterly useless meta-discussion in Gillies' book. He writes about his writing without providing any meaningful enlightenment whatsoëver.

An editor should have put his or her foot down, and told Gillies to trim away all this fat. But, again, there doesn't seem to be much editing of books these days, except when done by authors themselves.

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Despite the fame of Laplace's Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, it is not in fact a very original work. The classical interpretation of probability emerged from discussion in the period roughly from 1650 to 1800, which saw the introduction which saw the introduction and development of the mathematical theory of probability. Most of the ideas of the classical theory are to be found in Part IV of Jacob Bernoulli's Ars Conjectandi, published in 1713, and Bernoulli had discussed these ideas in correspondence with Leibniz. Nonethless, it was Laplace's essay which introduced the ideas of the classical interpretation of probability to mathematicians and philosophers in the nineteenth century. This may simply have been because Laplace's essay was written in French and Bernoulli's's Ars Conjectandi in Latin, a language which was becoming increasingly unreadable by scientists and mathematicians in the nineteenth century.

Donald Gillies
Philosophical Theories of Probability
Ch 1 §1 (p3)

[…] Laplace generalised and improved the results of his predecessors — particularly those of Bernoulli, De Moivre and Bayes. His massive Théorie analytique des Probabilitiés, published in 1812, was the summary of more than a century and a half of mathematical research together with important developments by the author. This book established probability theory as no longer a minority interest but rather a major branch of mathematics.

Donald Gillies
Philosophical Theories of Probability
Ch 1 §2 (p8)

Essai philosophique sur les probabilitiés was published a couple of years after Théorie analytique des probabilitiés, as a popular introduction to that earlier work. Objecting that Essai is not in fact a very original work, given that Théorie was the summary of more than a century and a half of mathematical research together with important developments by the author, is a bit absurd.

An editor should have brought this dissonance to Gillies' attention. I don't quite know what editors do these days, beyond deciding whether a given work may be expected to sell.

this ebony bird beguiling

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

As noted earlier, I've been reading Subjective Probability: The Real Thing by Richard C. Jeffrey. It's a short book, but I've been distracted by other things, and I've also been slowed by the condition of the book; it's full of errors. For example,

It seems evident that black ravens confirm (H) All ravens are black and that nonblack nonravens do not. Yet H is equivalent to All nonravens are nonblack.
Uhm, no:
(X ⇒ Y) ≡ (¬X ∨ Y) = (Y ∨ ¬X) = (¬¬Y ∨ ¬X) = [¬(¬Y) ∨ ¬X] ≡ (¬Y ⇒ ¬X)
In words, that all ravens are black is equivalent to that all non-black things are non-ravens.[1]

The bobbled expressions and at least one expositional omission sometimes had me wondering if he and his felllows were barking mad. Some of the notational errors have really thrown me, as my first reäction was to wonder if I'd missed something.

Authors make mistakes. That's principally why there are editors. But it appears that Cambridge University Press did little or no real editting of this book. (A link to a PDF file of the manuscript may be found at Jeffrey's website, and used for comparison.) Granted that the book is posthumous, and that Jeffrey was dead more than a year before publication, so they couldn't ask him about various things. But someone should have read this thing carefully enough to spot all these errors. In most of the cases that I've seen, I can identify the appropriate correction. Perhaps in some cases the best that could be done would be to alert the reader that there was a problem. In any case, it seems that Cambridge University Press wouldn't be bothered.


[1]The question, then, is of why, say, a red flower (a non-black non-raven) isn't taken as confirmation that all ravens are black. The answer, of course, lies principally in the difference between reasoning from plausibility versus reasoning from certainty.