Mathematician
Abraham de Moivre (1667–1754) was
a pioneer in the field of probability. According
to legend, the aging de Moivre observed that he needed
an extra quarter hour of sleep each day. When
he needed 24 hours of sleep, he died.
The word probability
appears to receive its first
mention in a 1477 commentary on Dante’s Divine
Comedy. 

AntoineNicolas
Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet (1743–1794),
used probability to argue that
capital punishment should be abolished. He
reasoned that, however great the probability that each
guilty verdict was correct, there remained a
small chance of error. As
the number of guilty verdicts increased, so would the
probability that an innocent person would be executed.
Condorcet himself
was condemned to death during the French revolution. 