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Trievents

ALBERTO MURA

1 Introduction

Philosophical research on conditionals is a complex topic. Since Ram-

sey, philosophers have noticed that the degree of assertability of an ut-

terance of the form “if p then q” may be measured by its probability

. However, involves two propositions while natural lan-

guage suggests that “if p then q” is a single proposition. Can we regard

‘|’ as a genuine connective? Clearly, standard material implication is not

suitable to represent ‘|’, since from the laws of probability it follows that

except in very special cases . Since there is no other

decent Boolean candidate for conditional except material implication, it

follows that ‘|’ cannot be seen as a Boolean connective. David Lewis

(1976) argued that it cannot be an iterable connective at all (let alone a

Boolean one). Lewis’s reasoning convinced many philosophers, like Ad-

ams (1975), that conditionals are not propositions (capable of being ei-

ther true or false) and that asserting a conditional amounts to maintain-

ing that has a very high value. In more recent times, researchers

in the field of AI tried to challenge Lewis’s result, by merging the Boo-

lean algebra of ordinary two-valued propositions in a larger non-Boolean

lattice (where they are represented by elements) and adopting a

three-valued semantics. In these settings ‘|’ is dealt with as a three-valued

truth-functional connective. Probability functions defined on the Boolean

structure may be extended to the larger lattice. Since, in this setting, con-

Bruno de Finetti, Radical Probabilist

Maria Carla Galavotti (ed.).

Copyright © 2009

201

202 / ALBERTO MURA

problem is, at least from a formal viewpoint, solved.

Recent research (developed mainly in the ‘90s) on three-valued ap-

proach to ‘|’ was powerfully forerun by de Finetti in a paper presented at

the Congress of Scientific Philosophy held in Paris in 1935 and entitled

The Logic of Probability ([1936] 1995).

In this paper I shall first explain de Finetti’s original contribution and

shall try to show the principal algebraic properties of de Finetti’s logic

of trievents. Second, I shall show the limits of de Finetti’s contribution

(as well as recent equivalent approaches) in dealing with conditionals

events and shall advance some proposals to overcome them. In particu-

lar, I shall introduce a new two-stages semantics (based on the new no-

tion of hypervaluation) and which is truth-functional in a generalized

sense and allows us to solve some puzzling features of de Finetti’s origi-

nal approach.

De Finetti’s reflections were stimulated by the appearance of many-

valued logics to theorise probability by Łukasiewicz, Reichenbach and

Mazurkiewicz. According to de Finetti, this kind of many-valued logic is

epistemic in character, and affects neither the bivalent logical character

of events nor the essentially subjective character of probability. In par-

ticular, adding a third truth-value meaning ‘doubtful’ should not “be

considered as the modification which could be substituted for two-

valued logic; it ought to be merely superimposed in considering proposi-

tions as capable, in themselves, of two values, ‘true’ or ‘false’, the dis-

tinction of ‘doubtful’ being only provisional and relative to O, the indi-

vidual in question”.

Alongside this use of many-valued logic, de Finetti considers a sec-

ond employment of it, which, in his view, may turn out to be useful in

connection with conditional probability. Conditional probability is a

function of a pair of propositions (or events). We may represent such a

pair of propositions by a single logical entity and semantics with three

values. In other terms, if is the Boolean algebra of all ordinary propo-

sitions, we may define a conditional event where by put-

ting . The semantics of ‘|’ may be obtained extending any

evaluation function defined over to ,

where , such that:

203/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

basis of this account, ‘|’ is not a genuine iterable truth-functional con-

nective and, prima facie, trievents are confined to represent pairs of or-

dinary propositions.

Surprisingly, de Finetti in section 4 goes on to claim that “[t]he logic

of trievents is a three-valued logic which can be developed in a perfect

analogy to two-valued logic”. Even more surprisingly, de Finetti ex-

plains this possibility “precisely because the trievents are only formal

representations of pairs of ordinary events”. The three-valued logic that

de Finetti has in mind is reached introducing three-valued genuine con-

nectives defined on the field of trievents. Such connectives are given by

the following truth-tables:

A ¬A (A ∧ B) A (A ∨ B) A

t f t u f t u f

u u t t u f t t t t

f t B u u u f B u t u u

f f f f f t u f

Conditioning Implication

(A | B) A (A → B) A

t u f t u f

t t u f t t t t

B u u u u B u u u t

f u u u f f u t

(called ‘Product’ by de Finetti) coincide with Łukasiewicz’s three val-

ued corresponding truth-functions. Implication anticipates Kleene’s

“strong” material implication. Finally, conditioning is the novel truth-

function introduced by de Finetti. It was rediscovered by several authors in

relatively recent times. In particular it was rediscovered by Stephen Blamey

204 / ALBERTO MURA

([1986] 2002) who had in mind the same kind of three-valued semantics

that inspired de Finetti.

Undoubtedly, the kind of interpretation of his three-valued logic that

emerges from de Finetti’s work is the same that inspires Blamey’s par-

tial logic. The basic tenet of this interpretation is that the truth value ‘u’

means lack of a truth-value rather than a third truth value on a par with

“true” and “false”. It should be insisted that this is exactly de Finetti’s

view of his “null” (or “void”) truth value. This emerges from several

other sources of de Finetti’s ideas. In L’invenzione della verità (The In-

vention of Truth), a posthumous philosophical book recently published

in Italian but actually written in 1934, de Finetti wrote:

If a distinction results in being incomplete, no harm done: it

would mean that besides “true” and “false” events I would also

have “null” events, or, so to speak, aborted events. As a matter of

fact, it is sometimes useful to consider explicitly and intentionally

from the very start such a “trievent” (especially, as will be seen

later, with respect to probability theory). If, for instance, I say:

“supposing that I miss the train, I shall leave by car”, I am formu-

lating a “trievent”, which will be either true or false if, after miss-

ing the train, I leave by car or not, and it will be null if I do not

miss the train. (de Finetti, 2006: 103)

De Finetti never changed his mind on the interpretation of the third

truth value. In Philosophical Lectures on Probability, another posthu-

mous philosophical book containing a collection of oral lectures held in

1979, six years before de Finetti’s death, we read:

The introduction of the truth-value is needed in order to distin-

guish between reference to an event as a statement and reference

to an event as a condition. Whenever the condition is satisfied,

then is either true or false (1 or 0). But unless the condition

is satisfied, one can neither say that the event is true, nor

that the event is false. It is void or null, in the sense that the

premise under which it is considered either true or false no longer

holds. In my opinion these three cases should be treated as distinct….

205/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

event is an event whose truth conditions are unknown… (De Fi-

netti 2008: 208)

De Finetti identified trievents and conditional events. The reason for

this identification lies (as we shall see) in the fact that every trievent

may be represented as a conditional event , being and ordi-

nary bivalent events. So de Finetti’s identification does not entail, in

principle, any loss of generality.

In his semantical analysis of partial logic Blamey points out that the

interpretation of the third value as a truth-value gap requires that logical

connectives should satisfy a property called monotonicity. In this con-

text monotonicity has to be meant with respect to the partial order be-

tween truth-values defined by and (t and f being incompara-

ble). As Blamey says, “[a]n intuitive way to think about this is that if a

formula has a value (t or f), then this value persists when any atomic

gaps (u) are filled in by a value (t or f)” (Blamey [1986] 2002: 268). It is

worth noticing (a) that all de Finetti’s connectives are monotonic, (b)

they are functionally complete with respect to monotonicity in the sense

that every monotonic truth function may be defined by the set of de Fi-

netti’s connectives, and (c) any truth-function defined by de Finetti’s

connectives is monotonic. Briefly, de Finetti connectives provide a sys-

tem of propositional monotonic logic. This result is straightforward in

the light of Blamey’s analysis. De Finetti’s system contains all Kleene’s

strong primitive connectives with the addition of conditioning, which is

the same as Blamey’s transplication. Now Blamey’s system consists in

turn of Kleene’s strong primitive connective with the addition of another

monotonic connective, called interjunction, which may be defined in

terms of conditioning as (Blamey [1986] 2002:

305). So de Finetti’s system is equivalent to Blamey’s system. Since

Blamey’s system defines a complete closed set of monotonic truth func-

tion, the same holds for de Finetti’s logic.

De Finetti does not explain how he found his truth tables except fol-

lowing “a perfect analogy to two-valued logic”. De Finetti was informed

about Łukasiewicz’s three-valued logic, but clearly rejected the non

monotonic Łukasiewicz’s material implication and bi-conditional de-

fined by the following truth tables:

206 / ALBERTO MURA

Łukasiewicz’s Łukasiewicz’s

Implication Biconditional

A B A (A B) A

t u f t u f

t t t t t t u f

B u u t t B u u t u

f f u t f f u t

monotonic because and have the truth-value t when

both A and B are null while changing B to f the truth-value changes to f.

In a note of L’invenzione della verità de Finetti complainsŁthat u-

kasiewicz’s systems contain a material implication which is not well

suited in representing a conditional event, but incorrectly attributes to

Łukasiewicz what actually is his (i.e. Kleene’s) monotonic material im-

plication:

As far as I know, in mathematical logic these “trievents” are not

considered, not even in the three-valued or many-valued systems

of Łukasiewicz, whose theory would not be here completely ap-

plicable; the assertion “if A, then B”, expressed by the formula

“A ⊃ B”, has a different meaning, viz. “not(A and not B)”. (De

Finetti 2006, p. 103)

We may speculate that de Finetti did not yet read of Łukasiewicz’s

paper at the time he wrote L’invenzione della verità. However, since in

The Logic of Probability, de Finetti cites Łukasiewicz’s paper Philoso-

phical Remarks on Many-Valued Systems of Propositional Logic

([1930] 1967), written in German (a language of which de Finetti had a

near native knowledge), we should presume that he had read that paper

at the time he wrote The Logic of Probability. Now, Łukasiewicz’s pa-

per presents at the very end of section 6 the truth-table of his three-

valued material implication (as well as of negation), so we may presume

that de Finetti intentionally deviated from Łukasiewicz in constructing

the truth-table for material implication, preferring what is now known as

Kleene’s conditional.

So we may ask why de Finetti preferred Kleene’s conditional to Łu-

kasiewicz’s one. We may speculate that while de Finetti’s was aimed at

preserving some algebraic properties of material implication present in

standard logic, Łukasiewicz’s was mainly aimed, among the other things,

at preserving certain basic tautologies (like A ⊃ A), that are not preserved

in Kleene’s system. But we may also speculate that de Finetti was guided

207/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

by the “gap view” of the null truth-value, which rules out any “if-then”

connective that renders a conditional assertion true when both the ante-

cedent and the consequent are null. Monotonicity is nothing but the for-

mal counterpart of the intuitive idea of a three-valued logic where the

third value means “null”, namely absence of truth-value. Intuition of a

gap interpretation of the third truth-value is a sufficiently reliable guide

for finding the right truth-tables even if the abstract notion of

monotonicity is not clear in one’s mind.

So we may assert that in 1935 de Finetti achieved the system of

Blamey’s partial propositional logic, although he did not explicitly for-

mulate the formal property that differentiates partial logic from other

approaches, like Łukasiewicz’s one.

It should be noticed that de Finetti’s interpretation of the null truth-

value is not epistemic. Trievents may be objectively either true or false

or devoid of any truth-value. But this objective character is purely logi-

cal (and derives from conventional stipulation) and has nothing to do

with Łukasiewicz’s ontological motivation about Aristotelian future

contingents and determinism. Moreover, the objective attitude of de Fi-

netti should be contrasted with the epistemological motivation of

Kleene, by whom ‘u’ represents a kind of uncertainty about the value of

a partial recursive function due to algorithmic limitations.

D. A. Bochvar ([1937] 1981) elaborated his three-valued logics in an

attempt to face the emerged logical antinomies of logic and set theory.

Beyond Bochvar motivations, what characterizes Bochvar’s system is

the distinction between two classes of connectives, which he called in-

ternal and external. Bochvar’s internal connectives define a logical sys-

tem that coincides with the so-called Kleene’s weak three-valued logical

system, so differing from de Finetti’s system. The external system con-

tains only truth functions , so that their output is

always a two-valued proposition. According to Bochvar, these connec-

tives are considered (more or less appropriately) as “metalinguistic” in

character, because they allow us to say that a proposition is true, false or

neither true nor false.

De Finetti anticipated Bochvar’s distinction and he too used, besides the

monotonic connectives that we have seen, two other connectives

, that are “external” in Bochvar’s terminology, called re-

spectively Thesis (that I shall be represented by the symbol ‘ ’, instead of de

208 / ALBERTO MURA

‘ ’ instead of the original ‘H’), whose truth table is the following:

A

t t t

u f f

f f t

De Finetti himself gives a metalinguistic interpretation of these con-

nectives: according to him ‘ ’ means “X is true”, while ‘ ’ means

“X is not null”.

It is clear from what de Finetti says that these two connectives are

meant not to be part of his logic of trievents. Rather, their business, ac-

cording to de Finetti, is just “[t]o return from the logic of trievents to

standard logic”. This is provided by the following noticeable result (that

I shall call de Finetti’s Decomposition Theorem):

event of the form , where A and B are ordinary (Boolean) events

and, (b) given two ordinary events A and B such that B is not a tautol-

ogy, is not an ordinary event.

Proof. (a) Let X be a trievent. Clearly both and are ordi-

nary events. Moreover, it holds: . This is shown by

the following truth table:

X

t t t t

u f u f

f f f t

(b) Let A and B be ordinary events such that B is not a tautology. B

may be either false or null. In this case is null, which proves that

.

other external connectives (external negation, external implication, ex-

ternal disjunction, external conjunction and external equivalence) being

defined in terms of ‘ ’ and the internal connectives. De Finetti’s ‘ ’ (not

null) is not explicitly present in Bochvar’s system. It, however, may be

209/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

.

Clearly ‘ ’ and ‘ ’ are non-monotonic, since if X is null, both and

are false, whereas if they are true both and are true. So the

business of these connectives is just (a) to isolate the set of ordinary

events, so that the Boolean algebra of ordinary events may be “ex-

tracted” from the lattice of trievents. Indeed, it is easy to show that

, where ‘ ’ stands for “tautology”) or, equiva-

lently, that , and (b) to associate every trievent

one-to-one to a pair of ordinary events.

In the light of Theorem 1 we may choose to start from a Boolean al-

gebra and extend it to via conditioning, since it holds:

. Alternatively we may start with and ex-

tract in the way we have seen. This result is at the basis of de Fi-

netti’s attitude towards trievent, considering them “only a way of treat-

ing synthetically pairs of standard propositions” (1935: 182), useful only

because they express “in a clear and significant form the question con-

cerning conditional probabilities” (ibid.). Moreover, in the light of theo-

rem 1, not only trievents may be constructed out of a Boolean algebra of

ordinary events, but «to introduce the notion of conditional probability is

to extend the definition of P(X) from the field of ordinary events, X, to

the field of trievents» ([1936] 1995: 185). This (unique) extension is

simply obtained by putting:

(1)

function of a single argument, ‘ ’ being a genuine truth-functional con-

nective. This result provides an ante litteram response to Lewis’s so-

called triviality result. I shall return to this point later.

5 Functional Completeness

Although there is strong textual evidence that de Finetti confined the logic

of trievents to monotonic logic, which is a closed lattice, we may ask

whether de Finetti’s larger logic (i.e. three-valued logic equipped with

the “metalinguistic” unary operators ‘ ’ and ‘ ’) (a) encompasses Łu-

kasiewicz’s logic and, in such a case, (b) whether it is functionally com-

plete (i.e. all finitary truth functions can be rep-

210 / ALBERTO MURA

netti’s logic encompasses Łukasiewicz’s logic is a matter of deciding

whether Łukasiewicz’s material implication may be defined in terms of

de Finetti’s truth-functional connectives. The answer is positive, since it

holds . Since the only set of con-

nectives that occur on the right side of this identity is , the

reduced de Finetti’s algebra encompasses Łu-

kasiewicz’s truth-functional algebra . It is

well known that is not functionally complete.

The problem arises whether this also holds for de Finetti algebra

. The answer is in the negative. This re-

sult follows from a theorem proved by Słupecky in 1936 (see Mali-

nowski 1993: 27): adding the constant truth-function to the stock

of truth-functions in , a functionally complete algebra is reached.

Now, since ‘ ’ is definable in by the identity , en-

compasses , so that it turns out to be functionally complete.

6 Algebraic approach

De Finetti speaks about the notion of conditional probability as a

matter of extending the definition of probability originally defined

over a Boolean algebra to trievents. By this extension what we obtain

is just a definition of a probability function over , not a probability

function confined to the monotonic algebra of Blamey. On the other

hand we may argue, from a philosophical point of view, that consider-

ing ‘ ’ and ‘ ’ as “metalinguistic” connectives does not violate the

view of the null truth-value as truth-gap. What would be in contrast

with de Finetti’s view is to introduce among the primitive truth-

functions a non-monotonic material implication (like Łukasiewicz’s or

Gödel’s implication) as the correct generalization of two-valued mate-

rial implication in the spirit of the logic of trievents. So, while much

appreciating Peter Milne’s Logic of conditional assertions — as well

as its algebraic counterpart, ‘de Finetti algebra’ — (Milne 2004), I

cannot endorse it as being in agreement with de Finetti’s view of

trievents.

To reconstruct de Finetti’s unified views of trievents we have to con-

sider a sentential language with a denumerable set of atomic sentences

equipped with the internal as well as external de Finetti connectives

(namely ‘ ’, ‘ ’, ‘ ’, ‘ ’, ‘ ’, ‘ ’, ‘ ’). Since identity of truth conditions

211/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

which contains a Kleene algebra

, namely a bounded distributive lattice with in-

volution satisfying De Morgan laws and the condition

(where ‘ ’ is the natural lattice order relation: iff ).

These properties define what Cleave (1991) calls a normal quasi Boo-

lean algebra. , as noted before, contains a Boolean algebra of ordi-

nary events, generated by set . Moreover, it con-

tains the constant null element ‘ ’ definable as , that I shall call

‘the nullity’.

7 Assertion

Asserting a sentence p equipped with the classical semantics consists

of a linguistic act by which it is unconditionally claimed that p is true.

Obviously, the same may not be said about sentences interpreted as

trievents. Trievents may lack a truth-value, so that the unconditional as-

sertion of their truth makes no sense. Asserting a trievent X is that lin-

guistic act that consists of asserting that X is true provided X is not null.

This is in accordance with the truth-functional identities

.

The different assertability conditions between sentences expressing

trievents and ordinary sentences should be taken into account in inter-

preting compound sentences. For example, to assert a set of ordinary

sentences is the same as asserting their conjunction

. This property cannot be extended in general to trievents.

To assert separately trievents and is not in general the same act as

asserting the compound trievent . In fact, the proviso under which

the assertion of the truth of is made is not that both and

are not null but that is not null. This difference should be kept in

mind to avoid fallacies and paradoxes. Most certainly, the proper use of

trievents departs from the use of conditionals as made in natural language.

Trievents should be used iuxta propria principia. To assert both and

is the same as asserting the trievent . This may

be considered as the definition of a conjunction connective, say ‘ ’ whose

truth table turns out to coincide with Kleene’s weak conjunction:

212 / ALBERTO MURA

Kleene’s weak

Conjunction

(A B) A

t u f

t t u f

B u u u u

f f u f

may be interpreted. The matter is not simple and I shall not insist here

on this point.

In the light of de Finetti’s Decomposition theorem X may be repre-

sented as (where and are two-valued propositions) and the

assertion of is that linguistic act that consists in claiming that E is

true provided H is also true. The degree of the (conditional) assertability

of a trievent X is precisely its probability . Notice that

the assertion of trievents viewed as the assertion of conditionals must be

interpreted as assertion of indicative conditionals. Conjunctive condi-

tionals may indeed be either true or false when the antecedent is false.

Trievents with false antecedents are always neither-true-nor-false.

8 Logical consequence

A central notion in deductive logic is without question the notion of

logical consequence. We may ask when a trievent q is a logical conse-

quence of a trievent p, and, more generally, when a trievent q is a logical

consequence of a set of trievents. De Finetti did not address this point.

However, we may try to find the best answer in the spirit of his ideas. In

the literature there are several alternative definitions that generalise to

three-valued logics the notion of logical consequence. Łukasiewicz (and

many others after him) simply required preservation of truth. This prima

facie appears to be a natural choice. However, there are strong reasons to

maintain that this requirement is inadequate. In two-valued logic, when

two propositions entail each other they have the same truth-conditions and

convey the same content. A reasonable requirement of adequacy for the

idea of logical consequence for trievents is that this property is preserved.

More formally:

213/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

ity of truth-conditions).

Now, if Łukasiewicz’s logical consequence definition is adopted,

then RA is violated. For and would entail each other, without

having the same truth conditions. Another proposal, going back to Bel-

nap (1973) and advocated by others, like Calabrese (1994) is the follow-

ing: q is a logical consequence of p if whenever p is not false q is not

false. Unfortunately, again (RA) is violated: in this case and

would entail each other without being truth-functionally equivalent.

Moreover, as Milne (1997, 215) has pointed out, from the de Finetti’s

standpoint by which the truth conditions of ‘ ’ are modelled on condi-

tional bets (true when a bet is won, false when a bet is lost, null when a

bet is called for), both conceptions of logical consequence are question-

able. For if p is false, a bet on is called for, but a bet on is

lost and a bet on is won. To satisfy RA, it is sufficient to require

that both truth and non-falsehood are preserved. Any strengthening of

this double requirement would have awkward side-effects. For example,

it may seem reasonable to require that the null truth-value should be pre-

served. In this case, however, tautologies would cease to be entailed by

every trievent. So the following definition of logical consequence seems

to be the only suitable candidate:

bols ) if and only if both the following conditions

are satisfied for every evaluation of the

elements of : (a) if then ; (b) if

then .

a set of sentences does not always coincide, in the context of trievents,

with the assertion of their conjunction (as defined by de Finetti’s truth-

tables), I shall avoid the extension of the preceding definition to the con-

sequences of sets of sentences.

Definition 1 is also recommended by straightforward algebraic con-

siderations. The main reason is that the consequence relation as defined

by definition 1 induces in a partial order which is isomorphic to the

natural lattice order if and only if . This allows the charac-

terisation of as a bounded Brouwerian lattice. The truth-function that

214 / ALBERTO MURA

every the relative pseudocomplement of p relative to q is

Gödel’s conditional, whose truth-table is the following:

Gödel’s conditional

(A B) A

t u f

t t t t

B u u t t

f f f t

9 Probability

To define a probability function on the quotient lattice we may

first define a probability function on the Boolean algebra of ordinary

events and then uniquely extend it by means of de Finetti’s Decomposi-

tion Theorem. Indeed for every element X of there are two elements

E, H belonging to such that . By putting:

provided ,

other way round: define probability directly on . In such a case it also

remains defined on (which is contained in ). The following axioms

show how this goal may be achieved. I assume that the probability P is a

partially defined function . is not defined if (and only

if) . In such a case there is a probability 1 that X is null, so

that, believing with practical certainty that X is null, it does not make

sense to assert that X is true with the proviso that it is not null. Notice

that leaving undefined the probability of those trievents such that

amounts to assigning a probability value only to those

trievents that, via De Finetti’s Decomposition Theorem are representable

as ( ) with . The axioms I propose are the

following:

A1. If then

A2.

A3. If then

A4.

215/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

A5. If then

obtained by the extension method above, it suffices to show the follow-

ing:

for every it holds that , there exist two elements

such that and .

ability function defined on . We have to show that satisfies all axi-

oms A1-A5. Trivially, axioms A1 and A2 are satisfied. Since , it

holds: (i) and . Since , A3 turns out to be trivi-

ally satisfied. As far as A4 is concerned, since ,

, , and , A4 is the same on as the

general addition axiom, and it is obviously satisfied by . Regarding

axiom 5, since , so that A5 becomes equivalent, with

respect to the elements of , to the axiom of complement, and it is

therefore satisfied. Now, A1, A2, A4, A5 provide a set of axioms for

standard finite probability. Hence is a probability function defined

over .

To prove (b) let be such that where . By

A3 it holds that

(2)

it holds that . Moreover, and

since , it holds that and , so that

. Replacing, in equation (2), with

and with we obtain:

(3)

problem arises of whether a set of axioms may be found to characterise

probability functions as partially defined over the monotonic sublat-

216 / ALBERTO MURA

as A3 shows, probability of trievents depends functionally on the prob-

ability of ordinary events. Without reference to ordinary events, no set

of probability axioms are therefore possible for trievents.

Surely, one of the main motivations for recent research on condi-

tional assertions that led to the rediscovery of Definettian trievents

comes from the philosophical impact of the so-called Lewis’s triviality

theorems (1976). There are several similar results all supporting the

same tenet (namely that conditioning is not a connective) and essentially

based on the same assumptions. The following version follows Jeffrey

(2004, p. 15). My criticism may be easily adapted to all other existing

versions. In a nutshell, the result amounts to the fact that the two follow-

ing formulas:

(4)

(5)

entail:

(6)

which, in turn, is satisfied only in special cases of little interest. This

would prove that ‘ ’ cannot be a genuine (let alone truth-functional) iter-

able conditional connective.

Now (4) is clearly satisfied by de Finetti’s conditioning, so Lewis’s

result shows that (5) cannot hold in general for trievents. However, we

may easily derive from axioms A1-A6 the following formula for

trievents, supposing :

(7)

, then (a) , (b) , (c)

, so that (7) reduces to (5). There is no reason for requir-

ing that (5) would be in general satisfied by trievents. In fact, (5) is just a

special case (with ) of a more general formula, called by de Finetti

217/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

events such that (a) , and (b)

:

(8)

fectly natural to represent in an ordinary event p by a partition of two

elements (namely ) and any trievent q by a parti-

tion of three elements (namely that mean respectively

“q is true”, “q is null”, “q is false”). If so, (7) is exactly the expected

generalisation of (5) for trievents. The denominator in (7) is a normalisa-

tion factor. These considerations are reinforced by the following result:

. If such conditions are satis-

fied, then contains one and only one element.

Proof. Let be se set of all valuations . Let

. For every valuation in : (a) iff ,

so that , (b) iff , so that , and

(c) iff , so that . Therefore, and

.

Now, suppose that there exist and both belonging to such

that , , and . Sup-

pose that for some in . If ,

and against the hypothesis. Similarly, if ,

and , against the hypothesis. Finally, if

, and again against the hy-

pothesis. We conclude: .

belonging to such that , , and .

Proof. It suffices to notice that , , and all belong to

and form a partition.

The conclusion we may draw is that Lewis’s result was really ante

litteram refuted by de Finetti’s approach to trievents in 1935.

218 / ALBERTO MURA

11 Difficulties

and probability, showing that absolute probability may be thought of as

a generalization of sentential logic that includes partial belief and en-

compasses conditional probability. The latter simply becomes absolute

probability of certain conditional propositions. However, from another

point of view, some nice correspondences between logic and probability

are lost by passing to trievents. In particular, it is well known that tau-

tologies are, in classical theory, the only sentences such that

for every probability function. Now, for every p and every probability

function , , but if , then , so that there

is a multiplicity of logically non equivalent trievents of probability 1 for

every probability function such that . The set of such trievents

coincides with the set , where is the filter and

.

The elements of are called ‘quasi-tautologies’ by Bergmann

(2008: 85). The elements of the dual ideal of ,

are called ‘quasi-contradictions’. Notice that , so that such

sentences are, by this definition, the only elements of which are at the

same time quasi-tautologies and quasi-contradictions. It can be shown

that every classical tautology belongs to and every classical contra-

diction belongs to (see Bergmann 2008: 86). The addition of condi-

tioning allows us to express every quasi tautology by the form . To

show this, it is sufficient to notice that, given a quasi tautology , it

holds . In fact, if is true then also is true and if is

null also is null. The converse, however, does not hold. In particu-

lar is extraneous to Kleene’s logic, in the sense that the constant truth-

function is not definable by Kleene’s connectives

. Indeed it is well known that such a truth-function in not de-

finable in Łukasiewicz’s logic whereas every connective of Kleene’s

logic is definable in the three-valued Łukasiewicz’s logic.

Now the presence of and is a very unpleasant feature for who-

ever sees probability as just a generalisation of propositional logic. In

classical probability, defined on Boolean algebras, the two following

properties are both satisfied:

1. if and only if for every probability function .

219/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

Now, while property 1 is preserved by the probability of trievents,

since in a parallel way it holds that

if and only if for every probability function such

that and ,

property 2 is not satisfied by the probability of trievents.. This is sub-

stantially due to the fact that all elements that belong to

have probability 1 and all elements belonging to have

probability 0. Notice that probability is never undefined over and

, since for every , it holds that . So it seems that

the view of probability as a generalization of propositional logic may be

extended to conditional probability by considering ‘ ’ as a genuine truth-

functional connective only at the price of losing the property by which

two propositions p and q are logically equivalent if for every probability

function . Progress on one side involves regress on the

other.

All elements belonging to (except contradictions) may be repre-

sented by a sentence of the form for some . Conversely, every

element of that is truth-functionally equivalent to a sentence of the

form and does not belong to belongs to . In the light of this

situation, we may focus our attention on those propositions that are ex-

pressible by a sentence of the form .

Moreover, we may ask in what sense, given a factual proposition p, a

conditional assertion of the form “p supposed that p” may differ in con-

tent from proposition of the same form where p is replaced with another

factual proposition q. In the spirit of the interpretation of the null value

as a gap, only the cases where a proposition is true or false should be

taken into consideration in evaluating if a proposition is “always true”

and “always false”. So if a trievent turns out to be true in all cases in

which it is not null, namely in all cases in which actually has a truth-

value, it seems natural to consider it as a tautology.

On the other hand, in calculating the probability of a trievent, only

the normalized ratio between the probability that it is true and the prob-

ability that it is false is taken into consideration. The probability that the

trievent in question is null is well determined by our account, but plays

the role of normalizing factor. And it is just for this reason that all quasi-

tautologies in receive probability 1.

220 / ALBERTO MURA

provide a semantic for trievents according to which all elements in

(and, dually, all elements in ) should be considered as logically

equivalent (entailing each other).

An analysis from the point of view of conditional bets (that expressly

guided de Finetti in finding his logic of trievents) corroborates this sug-

gestion. Let us move from the notion (introduced by Milne (2004: 501)

of betting partial order among sentences of :

and

trievent q if and only given a bet on p and a bet on q, if is won

then also is won and if is lost then also is lost. It is easy to

verify that this partial order is isomorphic to the natural lattice order in

. Let us explore if this partial order may be refined with respect to

quasi-tautologies and quasi-contradictions.

Bets on quasi-tautologies and quasi-contradictions are quite degener-

ate bets, being gambles without a real risk at stake. A bet on a quasi-

tautology cannot be lost and a bet on a quasi-contradiction cannot be

won. The difference between a bet on a quasi tautology and a bet on a

full tautology lies in the fact that the latter cannot be called off, so that it

is won with certainty, while the former can be called for. This, prima fa-

cie, justifies the difference in the partial order. However, this difference

evaporates at a closer look.

First, let us observe that, in considering bets as a guide for discussing

trievents with respect to logic and probability, we have to restrict our at-

tention to coherent bets. Second, what defines a bet on an event is the

related table of pay-offs. If every coherent bet on a trievent p has the

same betting quotient of every coherent bet on a trievent q, then p and q

should be considered as the same trievent. (A sentence belonging to is

not considered here as representing an “event” on which it makes sense

to bet, since such a bet could be neither won nor lost.)

Now, let us compare a coherent bet on a tautology and a coherent

bet on (where p is supposed to be neither a tautology nor a con-

tradiction nor a nullity). The pay-offs of these coherent bets may be nec-

essarily:

221/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

Outcome Pay-offs

t Won Won 0 0

u Won Called for 0 0

f Won Called for 0 0

tient and the same pay-offs. So any coherent bet on may be regarded

objectively as an “indirect” bet on . In an analogue manner it can be

shown that a coherent bet on may be regarded as an indirect bet on

with betting quotient 0. So, according to the previous considera-

tions, and should be considered as the same trievent and the

same may be said about and .

Let us now turn from the algebraic point of view to the semantical

point of view. Clearly, a semantics in accordance with definition 2 can-

not be purely truth-functional. The approach that I shall propose presents

some similarity with van Fraassen supervaluations (1966). Let us re-

hearse the latter approach to show why it cannot work in our context.

The basic idea is the following. Given a sentential language contain-

ing sentential connectives also present in the two-valued logics, first the

classes of both standard three-valued and two-valued valuations are de-

fined. A super valuation is a two-stage valuation. In the first stage every

formula is evaluated by a three-valued valuation in the standard way.

In the second stage it is supervaluated by means of function associ-

ated to . The supervaluation is so defined for every formula :

if for every two-valued evaluation that agrees with in the

assignments of the values and it holds: ;

assignments of the values and it holds: ;

otherwise.

tologies. In fact, every classical tautology continues to be supervaluated

222 / ALBERTO MURA

as true and every contradiction as false. All the rest remains unchanged.

Can we resort to supervaluations in the context of trievents? The answer

is in the negative. The reasons for this negative answer are the follow-

ing:

This derives from the presence of . Consider a sentence of the form

where . By standard valuations belongs to as

well. So a sentence of the form cannot be considered true for

every but only for those that are not nullities (i.e. do not belong

to ). I shall call a pre-tautology any schema of sentence whose in-

stances are evaluated as tautologies whenever they are not null in

every event. Quasi-tautologies of de Finetti’s logics of trievents that

are not tautologies should be evaluated as pre-tautologies.

2. Supervaluations work when all truth-functional connectives are pre-

sent also in classical logic. This is not the case in the logic of

trievents, due to the presence of conditioning, which is not present in

classical logic. As a result, supervaluations would give to every sen-

tence of the form the standard evaluation, in spite of the fact

that every such sentence is a quasi-tautology.

3. Supervaluations, appear to be reasonable with respect to Kleene’s

strong three-valued logic, where the set of quasi-tautology and the set

of classical tautologies do coincide. In such a situation it does make

sense (from a purely semantical viewpoint) to “promote” quasi-

tautologies to full tautologies, leaving the rest unchanged.

4. Supervaluations are not compositional in character. In other terms,

supervaluations have the following defect: while a classic tautology

is supervaluated as a tautology, it does not behave as a tautology in

compound sentences. For example, while a sentence of the form

is valuated as true by every supervaluation, a sentence of the

form is not valuated as a sentence of the form by

every supervaluation, as it should be expected and as it is done in

classical logic.

tion, which introduces a modal component at the second stage, is just the

kind of device we need. I shall call the kind of two-stage valuations that

I shall propose hypervaluations.

223/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

hypervaluation associated with is the function

recursively defined by the following

conditions:

2. If then

a. if ;

b. if ;

c. otherwise.

3. If then

a. if at least one of the following conditions are satis-

fied:

i. ;

ii. ;

iii. All the following conditions are satisfied:

01. for no valuation and ;

02. there exist a valuation such that either

or .

b. if at least one of the following conditions are satis-

fied:

i. and ;

ii. All the following conditions are satisfied:

01. for every valuation and

;

02. there exist a valuation such that and

c. otherwise.

4. If then

a. if at least one of the following conditions are satis-

fied:

i. and ;

ii. All the following conditions are satisfied:

01. for every valuation and

;

02. there exist a valuation such that and

.

224 / ALBERTO MURA

fied:

i. Either or ;

ii. All the following conditions are satisfied:

01. for no valuation and ;

02. there exist a valuation such that either

or

c. otherwise.

5. If then

6. If then

a. if at least one of the following conditions are sat-

isfied:

i. and ;

ii. All the following conditions are satisfied:

01. every valuation such that ,

isfied:

i. and ;

ii. All the following conditions are satisfied:

01. every valuation such that ,

c. otherwise.

7. If then

a.

b. otherwise.

8. If then

a. if either or ;

b. otherwise.

a comparison with supervaluations. This allows us to consider the logical

employment of non-null quasi-tautologies as full tautologies. In turn, this

225/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

sequence and logical equivalence.

each other ( ) iff for every valuation : .

: while there exists a valuation such

that .

valuation : while there exists a valuation

such that .

such that ,

.

pendence from the whole set of hypervaluations) so modifying the truth-

conditions of the monotonic binary connectives (maintaining the purely

truth-functional character of all the unary operators).

The question arises whether gives rise to a lattice with respect to ‘ ’

and ‘ ’. The answer is in the positive as is proved by the following results:

then is a tautology, i.e. for every valuation , (contradiction,

i.e. for every valuation , ).

Proof. We consider separately an exhaustive list of mutually exclu-

sive cases:

1. If is atomic the thesis is vacuously true because cannot be either

a pre-tautology or a pre-contradiction;

226 / ALBERTO MURA

nition 3, clause a (i), (clause b (i)) for every valuation

( ) so that is a contradiction (tautology) and is a tau-

tology (contradiction);

3. If then either or is a pre-tautology (both and

are pre-contradictions) and by definition 3, clauses a (i) and (ii)

(clause b (iv)), for every valuation ( ), so that

is a tautology (contradiction);

4. If then both and are pre–tautologies (either or

is a pre-contradiction) and by definition 3, clause a (i) (clauses (i)

and (ii)), for every valuation ( ), so that is a

tautology (contradiction);

5. If either is a pre-contradiction (pre-tautology) or

(and) is a pre-tautology (pre-contradiction). Since, by definition

3, clause 5, for every , and by clause 2 for

every ( ), by clause 3a (iii) (by

clause 3b (iv) ) so that is a tautology (contradiction);

6. If , then also is a pre-tautology ( is a pre-

contradiction), so that, as proved at point 5 (4) above is a tautol-

ogy (a contradiction);

7. If then is a pre-tautology (pre-contradiction). By defini-

tion 3.7, clause a (ii) (clause b) for every valuation

( ), so that is a tautology (contradiction);

8. If then is either a pre-tautology or a pre-contradiction

(void). By definition 3.8, clause a (ii) and (iii) (clause b) for every

valuation ( ), so that is a tautology (contra-

diction).

contradiction, or (c) a tautology, or (d) void. So our semantics allows us

to get rid of pre-tautologies e pre-contradictions, converting them com-

positionally in tautologies and contradictions respectively. However two

main differences with classical logic should be noticed.

First, no unrestricted substitution rule holds. As a result, tautologies

and contradictions may not be expressed by unconditioned schemas. For

example, the schema does not in itself represent a class of

“valid” sentences in the same sense as the same schema represents a class

of quasi-tautologies in standard three-valued logic. The point is that not all

instances of that schema are tautologies. More exactly, a sentence of the

227/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

form is not valid if (and only if) is a nullity. We may again use

schemas with appropriate provisos: “if is not a nullity then is a

tautology”. The clause “if is not a nullity” cannot in general be imme-

diately decided by inspecting . What, however is essential is that this

property is algorithmically decidable, and this turns out to be the case 1.

The second difference with the traditional approach lies in the fact

that the truth-conditions of sentences are not given by simple truth-

tables. A modal component (i.e. a reference to the set of all valuations)

is essentially present in definition 3. In spite of this, the truth-value of a

sentence depends only on the valuations of the atomic sentences that oc-

cur in it. This is shown by the following result:

sentences occurring in . If two valuations are such that for every

, then .

number of connectives occurring in . If then is atomic,

so that, by Definition 3, clause 1, .

Now suppose that and that for every the theorem is

true. We have the following exhaustive list of cases:

1. (where ‘ ’ stands for any unary connective). By inductive hy-

pothesis and by Definition 3, clause 2 and clauses 7–

8, in every case ;

2. (where ‘ ’ stands for any binary connective). By inductive

hypothesis and , so that by Definition

3, clauses 3–6, in every case .

our logic, in spite of its semi-modal character may still be considered as

truth-functional. A sentential connective is truth-functional in

the classical sense (or strict sense) if the truth-value of any sentence

is a function of the truth-values of the sentences .

Clearly, the binary connectives of , according to definition 3, are not

truth-functional in this sense. However, we may consider the following

more general definition of truth-functionality:

our mutating truth tables. This property would not be preserved if the present theory were

extended to quantification theory.

228 / ALBERTO MURA

generalized sense iff the truth-value of any sentence

is a function of the truth-values of the

atomic sentences occurring in .

definition 3 is truth-functional in the generalised sense.2 This allows us

to employ a truth-table technique in determining the truth-value of a mo-

lecular sentence for every assignment of truth-values to the atomic sen-

tences that occur in it. I shall call this technique the ‘mutant truth-tables

procedure’. The basic idea is very simple. In developing the original

truth-table algorithm, every computed column is checked for pre-

tautology or pre-contradiction and it is immediately converted into a tau-

tology or contradiction respectively before the process continues.

Consider, for example, the sentence ‘ ’. The stan-

dard truth-table for this sentence is the following (where the symbol ‘ ’

indicates the pre-tautological columns):

t t t u f t u f t t

u u u u u u u u u u

f u f u t f t t f f

t t t t f t ut f t t

u ut u t u u ut u u u

f ut f t t f t t f f

that it is raining it is raining and supposed that it is not raining it is not

raining” is uniformly null, while according to the semantics here pro-

posed (and to common use of natural language) it is just a tautology.

2 By the way, we notice that the generalized sense was what Wittgenstein actually de-

fined in Tractatus logico-philosophicus, 5: “Propositions are truth-functions of elemen-

tary propositions”, in spite of the fact that he considered only truth-functions in the strict

sense.

229/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

13 Back to algebra

Let be the set of the sentences of . Let be the set of equiva-

lence classes induced by the relation . Let us introduce in the

operations , by putting:

and . Let the re-

sulting quotient algebra. The first step in our attempt to prove the ade-

quacy of our semantics is to prove that is a lattice. Before going on to

prove this I shall prove some auxiliary result.

then is void; (b) if is void and is neither void nor a contradic-

tion then is a tautology.

is void; (b) if is void and is neither void nor a tautology then

is a contradiction.

Theorems 7 and 8 show that when a void sentence (i.e. an uniformly

null sentence) is involved, the semantics of conjunction and disjunction

deviates from standard logic. If truth-values are expressed numerically

(for example by 0, ½, 1 standing for false, null and true respectively),

the standard properties by which for every valuation

and do not ex-

tend to hypervaluations. This is happens every time a sentence of the

form is a pre-tautology by standard valuation and is changed in a

tautology or a sentence of the form is a pre-contradiction by

standard valuation and is changed in a contradiction. However, as is

clear, the following inequalities are retained:

and

.

defined in terms of hypervaluations is a congruence relation.

Proof. Clearly is reflexive, symmetric and transitive. We have to

prove:

a. If then (a.i) , (a.2) , (a.3) .

230 / ALBERTO MURA

mined by , so that if (as implies) for every

it follows (a.1) , (a.2) , and (a.3)

.

b. If and then (b.1) , (b.2)

, (b.3) , (b.4) .

It is readily seen that, by definition 3, if for every

and , for any valuation = ,

= , = , =

, so that (b.1) , (b.2) ,

(b.3) , (b.4) .

crucial problem arises of whether is a lattice. Given the nonstandard

character of hypervaluation semantics this is not a trivial problem. The

positive answer is provided by the following result.

and . Then is a bounded

lattice.

Proof. First, observe that is a nonempty set and that are

binary operations on . We have to prove: (i) ;

(ii) ; (iii) ; (iv)

; (v) ; (vi)

; (vii) there exists such that for every

, ; (viii) there exists such that for every

, .

i. Let . From definition 3 there is a perfect symmetry be-

tween the truth-conditions of and the truth-conditions of

, so that for every valuation it holds that

. Therefore, , so that

and .

ii. Let . From definition 3 there is a perfect symmetry be-

tween the truth-conditions of and the truth-conditions of

, so that for every valuation it holds that

. Therefore, , so that

and .

iii. Let . We have first to prove that for every valuation it

holds that . Let

such that , , and let

231/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

tive list of cases:

a.

, and

b.

and

c. , and

d. , and

e. and

f. , and

g. , and

h. , and .

In the case (a) (iii) is obviously satisfied by the well-known properties of

maximum.

In the case (b), and since it holds that

,

(iii) is satisfied too.

In the case (c), since and ,

.

On the other hand .

In the case (d) and

.

In the case (f) and

follows , so that

.

iv. Let . We have first to prove that for every valuation it

holds that . Let

232 / ALBERTO MURA

tinguish the following exhaustive list of cases:

a.

, and

b.

, and

c. , and

d. , and

e. and

f. , and

g. , and

h. , and .

In the case (a) (iv) is obviously satisfied by the well-known properties of

minimum.

In the case (b), and since

, (iv) is satisfied too.

In the case (c), since and ,

. On the other hand

.

In the case (d) and

.

In the case (f) and

follows , so that

.

v. Let . We have first to prove that for every valuation it

holds that . Let and

233/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

haustive list of cases:

a. and

b. and

c. and

d. and

In case that (a) the thesis is obvious by standard properties of maxi-

mum and minimum.

In case that (b) if , then ,

so that . If then

so that if also and by defini-

tion 3 in no case . So . If

then but then in every case by definition 3

. It follows that in which case

.

In the case that (c) the thesis is trivially satisfied.

In the case (d) may be satisfied only if .

vi. Let . We have first to prove that for every valuation it

holds that . Let and

as in (iii). Let us distinguish the following ex-

haustive list of cases:

a. and

b. and

c. and

d. and

In case that (a) the thesis is obvious by standard properties of maxi-

mum and minimum.

In case that (b) if , then ,

so that . If then

so that if also and by defini-

tion 3 in no case . So . If

, also but then in every case by definition 3

. It follows that in which case

.

In the case that (c) the thesis is trivially satisfied.

In the case (d) may be satisfied only if .

vii. Clearly and for every , .

234 / ALBERTO MURA

Distributive and modular properties are not satisfied by . To show

this it suffices to recall the celebrated property by which a lattice is

modular if and only if does not contain a “pentagon”, that is a sublattice

having the following structure (Cf. Grätzer 2000: 79):

to which distinct atomic sentences of belong, the following lattice

is clearly a sublattice of :

b∨c

⊥

We may ask whether is a semidistributive lattice. Recall that a lat-

tice is said to be semidistributive if and only if the two following impli-

cations are satisfied (see Grätzer 2000: 353)

pose , , and for an atomic sentences . Then:

235/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

very unpleasant. However, we have to sacrifice some of the “nice” alge-

braic properties of the original de Finetti’s algebra , if we are aiming

to achieve a structure which is not isomorphic to . Moreover, since

both and are structures that generalise Boolean algebras, and a

Boolean algebra is just a bounded distributive complemented lattice, we

have no choice if we aim at minimizing our departure from Boolean al-

gebras: either sacrifice distributivity or sacrifice complementation. De

Finetti’s original approach sacrifices complementation retaining dis-

tributivity. We shall see that our approach while sacrificing distributivity

retains complementation (which however, can be no longer unique).

It is easy to verify that very element of admits of a complement.

This is proved by the following result:

that (a) and (b) .

Proof. If , and (as it may verified either

directly by definition 3 or by mutant truth-tables). If , then for

every factual , by theorem 7 and, by theorem 8 .

according to the following definition:

an almost universal complement iff for every element

it holds: and .

of . Moreover, is self-dual, in the sense that

By departing from the distributive property in favour of complemen-

tation, our semantics takes the same direction as quantum algebraic

logic, whose most important properties are orthocomplementation and

orthomodularity. The problem arises whether is orthocomplemented.

236 / ALBERTO MURA

equipped with a map which is an involution, i.e. it holds for

every , .

order inverting involution iff for every such that ,

.

ing involution for . We are now ready to define orthocomplemenation.

is said to be orthocomplemented iff for every , is a

complement of .

dual element . It seems quite natural to provide a more general notion

by restricting the condition of the preceding definition to those elements

of L that are not self-dual. I shall call the resulting lattices almost ortho-

complemented , according to the following definition.

volution is said to be almost orthocomplemented iff for every

such that , is a complement of .

lattice.

It is well known that every orthocomplemented lattice equipped with

an order inverting involution satisfies the so-called “De

Morgan rules” (see Rédei 1998: 35), namely:

For every , (a) , and (b)

. We shall show that this is true also for almost or-

thocomplemented lattices since De Morgan rules involve only the pres-

ence of an order inverting involution.

237/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

inverting involution . Then (a) and (b)

(a) and . Since is order inverting

and , so that . Now, and

, so that and . It follows

that , so that .

(b) and . Since is order inverting

and , so that . Now, and

, so that and . It follows

that , so that .

important property of the original de Finetti’s algebra is the so-called

Kleene’s condition, according to which for every . The

following result shows that Kleene’s condition is preserved in .

Proof. Since is a quasi-contradiction, either or

. Since is a quasi-tautology either or

. In every event .

17 Orthomodularity

Departing from complementation or distributivity calls for minimiz-

ing such a departure if possible. We have seen that is an almost ortho-

complemented lattice. We have also seen that neither modularity nor

semidistributivity are satisfied by . Orthomodularity is a weaker form

of modularity defined on an orthocomplemented lattice. A perfectly ana-

logue condition may be defined for almost orthocomplemented lattices

as follows:

called almost orthomodular iff the following condition is satisfied

for every :

if and then .

We may ask whether is almost orthomodular. The answer is no. To

show this it suffices to pick a hypervaluation that assign the truth-value

238 / ALBERTO MURA

longs either to or to . In such a case , so that the truth-

value of any sentence belonging to would be while the

truth-value of any sentence that belongs to would be .

We have seen that none of the common attempts to preserve either

distributivity or modularity on has been successful. In spite of this

there is another condition that, when satisfied ensures the satisfaction of

the distributive formula. This condition is complete independence. Let

us begin by defining complete independence.

is completely independent iff for arbitrary disjoint finite sub-

sets and of U,

.

fine a weaker form of distributivity that, as we shall prove, is satisfied in

.

Definition 17. An almost orthocomplemented lattice is freely

distributive iff for any completely independent set U of L, if are

distinct elements of U then it holds:

Proof. 3 (a) In developing the truth-table for taking as

primitives, no quasi-tautology may be encountered, so that the devel-

oped truth-table is identical to the original truth-table developed with de

Finetti’s truth-tables. Same story for . But the original

truth-tables of is the same as the truth-table of .

Deleting from both tables the rows for the inconsistent assignments of

truth-values to , the two truth tables remain identical. This shows

. (b) Analogous (mutatis mutandis).

239/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

19 Probability defined on

There the axioms were meant to be applied to de Finetti’s lattice .

However, they are satisfiable also in . There is a remarkable result

proved in 1991 by Goodman, Nguyen and Walker (see Goodman and

Nguyen, 1995: 261) by which given two elements of for every

probability function (partially) defined over it holds that iff

, provided and .

Unfortunately, the stricter relation iff for every

probability function does not hold. However, The only exceptions to

the satisfaction of this relation arise when are either quasi-

tautologies (that receive all probability 1) or quasi-contradictions (that

receive all probability 0).

As we have seen, quasi-tautologies and quasi-contradictions play a

crucial role in and lead to paradoxes. So, for example since

is a quasi-contradiction al-

though and may be assigned any value in the

closed interval [0, 1]. This paradox was mentioned by Edgington (2006)

to show that the trievent approach to conditionals is untenable. Fortu-

nately, the difficulty disappears if probability is probability is distributed

over . For, in it holds that , so that

in accordance with common intuition.

Since quasi-tautologies and quasi-contradictions in are (if they are

not nullities) in the same equivalence class of tautologies and contradic-

tions, the relation iff holds as is proven by the follow-

ing results.

over . Given two elements of such that (a) (b)

, (c) , it holds that .

Proof. Let a surjective homomorphism such that for

every .

identify and ( is indeed a sublattice of ). Moreover, there is

240 / ALBERTO MURA

functions over . Since if then for each probability function

over it holds that . Analogously if

then for each probability function over it holds that

.

For each probability function over corresponds a probability

function over such that for every it holds that

. On the other hand it holds that iff . Now, we

know that , and , then

for every probability function over (see Goodman

and Nguyen, 1995: 261). But being it follows that if

, and , then and

. Moreover, if for any probability function

then .

ability function partially defined over it holds that ,

then .

Proof. If for every probability function , then

and . Since , , , and belong

to the Boolean algebra , it holds that and

. Now, , so that . If for every

probability function , and

. But , so that .

Otherwise, supposing for some probability function and

, then either or . There are two cases (i) ,

(ii) while . In the case (i) there is a probability function

by which and , so that and . In

the case (ii) , but for at least a probability function

, so that and . In both cases

we have a contradiction with the assumption .

with respect to the lattice natural order. Theorem 16 proves that if two

elements of receive the same probability value by every probabil-

ity function that assigns to both a value, then . Taken together

these results show that probability, defined over , preserves the lattice

order in the same way as classical probability does on Boolean algebras.

This fully vindicates the idea that probability over trievents is a generali-

241/ PROBABILITY AND THE LOGIC OF DE FINETTI’S TRIEVENTS

considered as the probability of de Finetti’s conditional, albeit with a

new semantics, which truth-functional in a generalised sense.

References

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