Both laypeople and experts are often called upon to evaluate the probability of uncertain events such as the outcome of a trial, the result of a medical operation, the success of a business venture, or the winner of a football game. Such assessments play an important role in deciding, respectively, whether to go to court, undergo surgery, invest in the venture, or bet on the home team. Uncertainty is usually expressed in verbal terms (e.g., unlikely or probable), but numeric estimates are also common. Weather forecasters, for example, often report the probability of rain (Murphy, 1985), and economists are sometimes required to estimate the chances of recession (Zarnowitz, 1985). The theoretical and practical significance of subjective probability has inspired psychologists, philosophers, and statisticians to investigate this notion from both descriptive and prescriptive standpoints.
Indeed, the question of whether degree of belief can, or should be, represented by the calculus of chance has been the focus of a long and lively debate. In contrast to the Bayesian school, which represents degree of belief by an additive probability measure, there are many skeptics who question the possibility and the wisdom of quantifying subjective uncertainty and are reluctant to apply the laws of chance to the analysis of belief. Besides the Bayesians and the skeptics, there is a growing literature on what might be called revisionist models of subjective probability.