*John Venn*, adapted from H. D. Francis

**About the author…**

John Venn (1834-1923) studied mathematics at Cambridge. He became a lecturer in moral sciences— teaching logic and probability theory and published three influential texts improving and extending the logic of George Boole. Venn is best known for his development of "Venn diagrams" designed to analyze the validity of logical arguments. John Maynard Keynes, the Nobel Prize winning economist, described *The Logic of Chance*, the work from which our reading is taken, as a study that is "strikingly original and [has] considerably influenced the development of the theory of statistics."

About the work…In the chapter entitled, "Statistics as Applied to Human Actions," from his

The Logic of Chance, [1] Venn argues (against John Stuart Mill's purported determinism of the previous reading) that the logic of human conduct differs in kind from the logic of inanimate sciences. The foreknowledge of a prediction concerning a voluntary action affects the possibility of that action occurring. By distinguishing between the speculative and practical views of statistical laws, Venn explains the "fatalistic fallacy"—the belief that the reliability and certainty of natural law is inconsistent with the existence of free will.

[1] | John Venn. |