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a term used in probability theory, logic, epistemology, and law (theory of legal proof). In philosophical and logical-methodological investigations it is most frequently used to characterize knowledge that is valid, conclusive, or indisputable and also as a synonym for truth. In experimental natural science the term “certainty” frequently designates events and judgments that are regarded as empirically confirmed by special experiments or, more broadly, by the social and productive practice of men.

The term acquires a somewhat specialized meaning in probability theory. In so-called subjective, or personal, probability, certainty is most frequently interpreted as a concept reflecting the subject’s confidence in the correctness of his evaluation of the probability that a particular event will occur. From this point of view certainty also expresses the extent of a given individual’s knowledge about the conditions and factors contributing to or counteracting the occurrence of events. In this sense, with the exception of extremely idealized or oversimplified cases, certainty includes a considerable element of uncertainty, inasmuch as exhaustive knowledge about such conditions and factors is practically unobtainable.


References in periodicals archive ?
According to this approach, someone may alternately share the certainties "I will die in a very distant future" and "I will die very soon," to the extent that the change from one to the other might take place suddenly and even repeatedly within a short period of time.
Once again, it should be noted that the certainties of dying soon and of dying in a distant future converge in a common point, for in both cases it is assumed that one will die.
Not for nothing was my aim to show that this certainty is far from being a simple matter--or rather, a certainty as evident, common and unquestionable as the certainties that we are alive, have a body, or that people to whom we are speaking exist.
God turns their certainties upside down--transforms them, if you like.
When I used this exercise for the original version of this Bible study in the Ecumenical Centre, some colleagues came to me afterwards to express their dismay at having to contemplate their certainties being transformed.