Open Access
December, 1964 On Qualitative Probability $/sigma$-Algebras
C. Villegas
Ann. Math. Statist. 35(4): 1787-1796 (December, 1964). DOI: 10.1214/aoms/1177700400


The first clear and precise statement of the axioms of qualitative probability was given by de Finetti ([1], Section 13). A more detailed treatment, based however on more complex axioms for conditional qualitative probability, was given later by Koopman [5]. De Finetti and Koopman derived a probability measure from a qualitative probability under the assumption that, for any integer $n$, there are $n$ mutually exclusive, equally probable events. L. J. Savage [6] has shown that this strong assumption is unnecessary. More precisely, he proves that if a qualitative probability is only fine and tight, then there is one and only one probability measure compatible with it. No property equivalent to countable additivity has been used as yet in the development of qualitative probability theory. However, since the concept of countable additivity is of such fundamental importance in measure theory, it is to be expected that an equivalent property would be of interest in qualitative probability theory, and that in particular it would simplify the proof of the existence of compatible probability measures. Such a property is introduced in this paper, under the name of monotone continuity. It is shown that, if a qualitative probability is atomless and monotonely continuous, then there is one and only one probability measure compatible with it, and this probability measure is countably additive. It is also proved that any fine and tight qualitative probability can be extended to a monotonely continuous qualitative probability, and therefore, contrary to what might be expected, there is no loss in generality if we consider only qualitative probabilities which are monotonely continuous. At the present time there is still a controversy over the interpretation which should be given to the word probability in the scientific and technical literature. Although the present writer subscribes to the opinion that this interpretation may be different in different contexts, in this paper we do not enter into this controversy. We simply remark that a qualitative probability, as a numerical one, may be interpreted either as an objective or as a subjective probability, and therefore the following axiomatic theory is compatible with both interpretations of probability.


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C. Villegas. "On Qualitative Probability $/sigma$-Algebras." Ann. Math. Statist. 35 (4) 1787 - 1796, December, 1964.


Published: December, 1964
First available in Project Euclid: 27 April 2007

zbMATH: 0127.34807
MathSciNet: MR167588
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/aoms/1177700400

Rights: Copyright © 1964 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.35 • No. 4 • December, 1964
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