This book presents a multidisciplinary perspective on chance, with contributions from distinguished researchers in the areas of biology, cognitive neuroscience, economics, genetics, general history, law, linguistics, logic, mathematical physics, statistics, theology and philosophy. The individual chapters are bound together by a general introduction followed by an opening chapter that surveys 2500 years of linguistic, philosophical, and scientific reflections on chance, coincidence, fortune, randomness, luck and related concepts. A main conclusion that can be drawn is that, even after all this time, we still cannot be sure whether chance is a truly fundamental and irreducible phenomenon, in that certain events are simply uncaused and could have been otherwise, or whether it is always simply a reflection of our ignorance. Other challenges that emerge from this book include a better understanding of the contextuality and perspectival character of chance (including its scale-dependence), and the curious fact that, throughout history (including contemporary science), chance has been used both as an explanation and as a hallmark of the absence of explanation. As such, this book challenges the reader to think about chance in a new way and to come to grips with this endlessly fascinating phenomenon.
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