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  1. added 2020-07-10
    The Structure of Epistemic Probabilities.Nevin Climenhaga - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 77 (11).
    The epistemic probability of A given B is the degree to which B evidentially supports A, or makes A plausible. This paper is a first step in answering the question of what determines the values of epistemic probabilities. I break this question into two parts: the structural question and the substantive question. Just as an object’s weight is determined by its mass and gravitational acceleration, some probabilities are determined by other, more basic ones. The structural question asks what probabilities are (...)
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  2. added 2020-06-02
    Structural Parsimony.Ghislain Guigon - manuscript
    Many metaphysicians often appeal to Hume’s dictum (HD), according to which there are no necessary connections between distinct entities (or states of entities), in order to resist theories that commit us to such connections. Some have argued that HD is an unsupported dogma of metaphysics. But theories that commit us to necessary connections between distinct goings-on can also be resisted by invoking a normative twist on HD, which I call the Humean Solvent (HS): “Do not connect distinct entities (or states (...)
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  3. added 2020-06-02
    Acquaintance, Parsimony, and Epiphenomenalism.Brie Gertler - 2019 - In Sam Coleman (ed.), The Knowledge Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 62-86.
    Some physicalists (Balog 2012, Howell 2013), and most dualists, endorse the acquaintance response to the Knowledge Argument. This is the claim that Mary gains substantial new knowledge, upon leaving the room, because phenomenal knowledge requires direct acquaintance with phenomenal properties. The acquaintance response is an especially promising way to make sense of the Mary case. I argue that it casts doubt on two claims often made on behalf of physicalism, regarding parsimony and mental causation. I show that those who endorse (...)
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  4. added 2020-06-02
    Multilocation and Parsimony.Justin Mooney - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):153-160.
    One objection to the thesis that multilocation is possible claims that, when combined with a preference for parsimonious theories, it leads to the absurd result that we ought to believe the material universe is composed of just one simple particle. I argue that this objection fails.
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  5. added 2020-06-02
    Snipping or Editing? Parsimony in the Chimpanzee Mind-Reading Debate: Elliott Sober: Ockham’s Razors: A User’s Manual. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 322 Pp, $ 29.99 PB, $ 99.99 HB.Kristin Andrews - 2016 - Metascience 25 (3):377-386.
    on ). Advice about how to move forward on the mindreading debate, particularly when it comes to overcoming the logical problem, is much needed in comparative psychology. In chapter 4 of his book Ockham’s Razors, Elliott Sober takes on the task by suggesting how we might uncover the mechanism that mediates between the environmental stimuli that is visible to all, and chimpanzee social behavior. I argue that Sober's proposed method for deciding between the behaivor-reading and mindreading hypotheses fails given the (...)
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  6. added 2020-06-02
    Parsimony and the Fisher–Wright Debate.Anya Plutynski - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (4):697-713.
    In the past five years, there have been a series of papers in the journal Evolution debating the relative significance of two theories of evolution, a neo-Fisherian and a neo-Wrightian theory, where the neo-Fisherians make explicit appeal to parsimony. My aim in this paper is to determine how we can make sense of such an appeal. One interpretation of parsimony takes it that a theory that contains fewer entities or processes, (however we demarcate these) is more parsimonious. On the account (...)
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  7. added 2020-05-25
    Naturalness of Properties and Simplicity of Theories.Matej Drobňák - 2019 - Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 41 (1):3-19.
    In this paper, I discuss a specific approach to measuring and comparing the simplicity of theories that is based on Lewis’s notion of fundamental properties. In particular, I discuss the criterion of simplicity as stated by Williams. According to Williams, the best candidate for a theory is the one which has the shortest definition in terms of fundamental properties. The aim of this paper is to show that the criterion thus specified has two constraints. First, the criterion is not applicable (...)
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  8. added 2020-05-25
    Evidence and Simplicity: Why We Should Reject Homeopathy.Scott Sehon & Donald Stanley - 2010 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16 (2):276-281.
    Homeopathic medications are used by millions, and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these remedies in the USA alone. In the UK, the NHS covers homeopathic treatments. Nonetheless, homeopathy is held in considerable disrepute by much of the medical and scientific community.Many proponents of homeopathy are well aware of these criticisms but remain unimpressed. The differences of opinion run deep, and the debate seems deadlocked. We aim to shed some light on this situation. We briefly recap some of (...)
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  9. added 2020-05-25
    Hume and a Worry About Simplicity.Stewart Duncan - 2009 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 26 (2):139-157.
    I discuss Hume's views about whether simplicity and generality are positive features of explanations. In criticizing Hobbes and others who base their systems of morality on self interest, Hume diagnoses their errors as resulting from a "love of simplicity". These worries about whether simplicity is a positive feature of explanations emerge in Hume's thinking over time. But Hume does not completely reject the idea that it's good to seek simple explanations. What Hume thinks we need is good judgment about when (...)
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  10. added 2020-05-25
    Is Simplicity an Adequate Criterion of Theory Choice.Julia Göhner, Marie I. Kaiser & Christian Suhm - 2008 - In N. Mößner, S. Schmoranzer & C. Weidemann (eds.), Richard Swinburne. Frankfurt/Main, GER: ontos. pp. 33-45.
    According to Richard Swinburne, the principle of simplicity is of great importance to theory choice scenarios and theoretical changes in the sciences. In particular, he holds that the theory choice criterion of fit with background evidence can be reduced to the criteria of simplicity and of yielding the data. We will, however, rebut this reduction thesis and show that three central aspects of theoretical change (confirming power of empirical data, reliability of experimental methods, and truth of new theoretical proposals) cannot (...)
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  11. added 2020-05-25
    Simplicity.Nicholas Maxwell - 2000 - PhilSci Archive.
    There are two problems of simplicity. What does it mean to characterize a scientific theory as simple, unified or explanatory in view of the fact that a simple theory can always be made complex (and vice versa) by a change of terminology? How is preference in science for simple theories to be justified? In this paper I put forward a proposal as to how the first problem is to be solved. The more nearly the totality of fundamental physical theory exemplifies (...)
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  12. added 2020-04-30
    Theoretical Virtues in Scientific Practice: An Empirical Study.Moti Mizrahi - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    It is a common view among philosophers of science that theoretical virtues (also known as epistemic or cognitive values), such as simplicity and consistency, play an important role in scientific practice. In this paper, I set out to study the role that theoretical virtues play in scientific practice empirically. I apply the methods of data science, such as text mining and corpus analysis, to study large corpora of scientific texts in order to uncover patterns of usage. These patterns of usage, (...)
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  13. added 2019-09-04
    Unification and the Myth of Purely Reductive Understanding.Michael J. Shaffer - 2020 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 27:142-168.
    In this paper significant challenges are raised with respect to the view that explanation essentially involves unification. These objections are raised specifically with respect to the well-known versions of unificationism developed and defended by Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher. The objections involve the explanatory regress argument and the concepts of reduction and scientific understanding. Essentially, the contention made here is that these versions of unificationism wrongly assume that reduction secures understanding.
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  14. added 2019-07-03
    Why Simpler Computer Simulation Models Can Be Epistemically Better for Informing Decisions.Casey Helgeson, Vivek Srikrishnan, Klaus Keller & Nancy Tuana - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    For computer simulation models to usefully inform climate risk management decisions, uncertainties in model projections must be explored and characterized. Because doing so requires running the model many times over, and because computing resources are finite, uncertainty assessment is more feasible using models that need less computer processor time. Such models are generally simpler in the sense of being more idealized, or less realistic. So modelers face a trade-off between realism and extent of uncertainty quantification. Seeing this trade-off for the (...)
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  15. added 2018-10-15
    Review of 'Theoretical Virtues in Science' by Samuel Schindler. [REVIEW]Darren Bradley - manuscript
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  16. added 2018-09-07
    Composition as Pattern.Steve Petersen - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (5):1119-1139.
    I argue for patternism, a new answer to the question of when some objects compose a whole. None of the standard principles of composition comfortably capture our natural judgments, such as that my cat exists and my table exists, but there is nothing wholly composed of them. Patternism holds, very roughly, that some things compose a whole whenever together they form a “real pattern”. Plausibly we are inclined to acknowledge the existence of my cat and my table but not of (...)
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  17. added 2018-06-19
    The Perils of Parsimony.William Roche - 2018 - Journal of Philosophy 115 (9):485-505.
    It is widely thought in philosophy and elsewhere that parsimony is a theoretical virtue in that if T1 is more parsimonious than T2, then T1 is preferable to T2, other things being equal. This thesis admits of many distinct precisifications. I focus on a relatively weak precisification on which preferability is a matter of probability, and argue that it is false. This is problematic for various alternative precisifications, and even for Inference to the Best Explanation as standardly understood.
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  18. added 2018-06-09
    Belief Revision in Science: Informational Economy and Paraconsistency.Daniel Coimbra - 2017 - Contemplação 1 (15):19-38.
    In the present paper, our objective is to examine the application of belief revision models to scientific rationality. We begin by considering the standard model AGM, and along the way a number of problems surface that make it seem inadequate for this specific application. After considering three different heuristics of informational economy that seem fit for science, we consider some possible adaptations for it and argue informally that, overall, some paraconsistent models seem to better satisfy these principles, following Testa (2015). (...)
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  19. added 2018-06-07
    A Unified Cognitive Model of Visual Filling-In Based on an Emergic Network Architecture.David Pierre Leibovitz - 2013 - Dissertation, Carleton University
    The Emergic Cognitive Model (ECM) is a unified computational model of visual filling-in based on the Emergic Network architecture. The Emergic Network was designed to help realize systems undergoing continuous change. In this thesis, eight different filling-in phenomena are demonstrated under a regime of continuous eye movement (and under static eye conditions as well). -/- ECM indirectly demonstrates the power of unification inherent with Emergic Networks when cognition is decomposed according to finer-grained functions supporting change. These can interact to raise (...)
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  20. added 2018-05-19
    Are All Primitives Created Equal?J. T. M. Miller - 2018 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 56 (2):273-292.
    Primitives are both important and unavoidable, and which set of primitives we endorse will greatly shape our theories and how those theories provide solutions to the problems that we take to be important. After introducing the notion of a primitive posit, I discuss the different kinds of primitives that we might posit. Following Cowling (2013), I distinguish between ontological and ideological primitives, and, following Benovsky (2013) between functional and content views of primitives. I then propose that these two distinctions cut (...)
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  21. added 2018-02-17
    Simple is Not Easy.Edison Barrios - 2016 - Synthese 193 (7):2261-2305.
    I review and challenge the views on simplicity and its role in linguistics put forward by Ludlow. In particular, I criticize the claim that simplicity—in the sense pertinent to science—is nothing more than ease of use or “user-friendliness”, motivated by economy of labor. I argue that Ludlow’s discussion fails to do justice to the diversity of factors that are relevant to simplicity considerations. This, in turn, leads to the neglect of crucial cases in which the rationale for simplification is unmistakably (...)
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  22. added 2017-10-30
    Philosophers Should Prefer Simpler Theories.Darren Bradley - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3049-3067.
    Should philosophers prefer simpler theories? Huemer (Philos Q 59:216–236, 2009) argues that the reasons to prefer simpler theories in science do not apply in philosophy. I will argue that Huemer is mistaken—the arguments he marshals for preferring simpler theories in science can also be applied in philosophy. Like Huemer, I will focus on the philosophy of mind and the nominalism/Platonism debate. But I want to engage with the broader issue of whether simplicity is relevant to philosophy.
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  23. added 2017-04-07
    Unification Strategies in Cognitive Science.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 48 (1):13–33.
    Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary conglomerate of various research fields and disciplines, which increases the risk of fragmentation of cognitive theories. However, while most previous work has focused on theoretical integration, some kinds of integration may turn out to be monstrous, or result in superficially lumped and unrelated bodies of knowledge. In this paper, I distinguish theoretical integration from theoretical unification, and propose some analyses of theoretical unification dimensions. Moreover, two research strategies that are supposed to lead to unification are (...)
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  24. added 2016-12-08
    Sober as a Judge: Elliott Sober: Ockham’s Razors: A User’s Manual. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 322pp, $29.99 , $99.99.Gordon Belot - 2016 - Metascience 25 (3):387-392.
    In Ockham's Razors: A User's Guide, Elliott Sober argues that parsimony considerations are epistemically relevant on the grounds that certain methods of model selection, such as the Akaike Information Criterion, exhibit good asymptotic behaviour and take the number of adjustable parameters in a model into account. I raise some worries about this form of argument.
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  25. added 2016-12-08
    Has Science Established That the Cosmos is Physically Comprehensible?Nicholas Maxwell - 2012 - In A. Travena & B. Soen (eds.), Recent Advances in Cosmology. Nova Publishers. pp. 1-56.
    Most scientists would hold that science has not established that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – i.e. such that there is some as-yet undiscovered true physical theory of everything that is unified. This is an empirically untestable, or metaphysical thesis. It thus lies beyond the scope of science. Only when physics has formulated a testable unified theory of everything which has been amply corroborated empirically will science be in a position to declare that it has established that the cosmos is (...)
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  26. added 2016-10-20
    Simplicity as a Criterion of Theory Choice in Metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
    Metaphysicians frequently appeal to the idea that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, in the sense that, all other things being equal, simpler metaphysical theories are more likely to be true. In this paper I defend the notion that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, against several recent objections. I do not give any direct arguments for the thesis that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, since I am aware of no such arguments. I do argue, however, that (...)
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  27. added 2016-05-11
    Can There Be a Bayesian Explanationism? On the Prospects of a Productive Partnership.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4):1245–1272.
    In this paper, I consider the relationship between Inference to the Best Explanation and Bayesianism, both of which are well-known accounts of the nature of scientific inference. In Sect. 2, I give a brief overview of Bayesianism and IBE. In Sect. 3, I argue that IBE in its most prominently defended forms is difficult to reconcile with Bayesianism because not all of the items that feature on popular lists of “explanatory virtues”—by means of which IBE ranks competing explanations—have confirmational import. (...)
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  28. added 2016-05-11
    Cladistic Parsimony, Historical Linguistics and Cultural Phylogenetics.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (1):65-100.
    Here, I consider the recent application of phylogenetic methods in historical linguistics. After a preliminary survey of one such method, i.e. cladistic parsimony, I respond to two common criticisms of cultural phylogenies: that cultural artifacts cannot be modeled as tree-like because of borrowing across lineages, and that the mechanism of cultural change differs radically from that of biological evolution. I argue that while perhaps remains true for certain cultural artifacts, the nature of language may be such as to side-step this (...)
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  29. added 2015-08-19
    Why Simpler Arguments Are Better.Moti Mizrahi - 2016 - Argumentation 30 (3):247-261.
    In this paper, I argue that, other things being equal, simpler arguments are better. In other words, I argue that, other things being equal, it is rational to prefer simpler arguments over less simple ones. I sketch three arguments in support of this claim: an argument from mathematical proofs, an argument from scientific theories, and an argument from the conjunction rule.
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  30. added 2015-08-02
    Curve-Fitting for Bayesians?Gordon Belot - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3):689-702.
    Bayesians often assume, suppose, or conjecture that for any reasonable explication of the notion of simplicity a prior can be designed that will enforce a preference for hypotheses simpler in just that sense. But it is shown here that there are simplicity-driven approaches to curve-fitting problems that cannot be captured within the orthodox Bayesian framework.
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  31. added 2014-10-14
    Nativism, Empiricism, and Ockham’s Razor.Simon Fitzpatrick - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):895-922.
    This paper discusses the role that appeals to theoretical simplicity have played in the debate between nativists and empiricists in cognitive science. Both sides have been keen to make use of such appeals in defence of their respective positions about the structure and ontogeny of the human mind. Focusing on the standard simplicity argument employed by empiricist-minded philosophers and cognitive scientists—what I call “the argument for minimal innateness”—I identify various problems with such arguments—in particular, the apparent arbitrariness of the relevant (...)
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  32. added 2014-09-04
    Devious Stipulations.John Horden - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 10.
    Recent attempts to answer ontological questions through conceptual analysis have been controversial. Still, it seems reasonable to assume that if the existence of certain things analytically follows from sentences we already accept, then there is no further ontological commitment involved in affirming the existence of those things. More generally, it is plausible that whenever a sentence analytically entails another, the conjunction of those sentences requires nothing more of the world for its truth than the former sentence alone. In his ‘Analyticity (...)
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  33. added 2014-03-30
    The Primate Mindreading Controversy : A Case Study in Simplicity and Methodology in Animal Psychology.Simon Fitzpatrick - 2009 - In Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press. pp. 224--246.
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  34. added 2013-12-16
    Theory Choice and Social Choice: Okasha Versus Sen.Jacob Stegenga - 2015 - Mind 124 (493):263-277.
    A platitude that took hold with Kuhn is that there can be several equally good ways of balancing theoretical virtues for theory choice. Okasha recently modelled theory choice using technical apparatus from the domain of social choice: famously, Arrow showed that no method of social choice can jointly satisfy four desiderata, and each of the desiderata in social choice has an analogue in theory choice. Okasha suggested that one can avoid the Arrow analogue for theory choice by employing a strategy (...)
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  35. added 2013-02-03
    Kelly on Ockham’s Razor and Truth-Finding Efficiency.Simon Fitzpatrick - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):298-309.
    This paper discusses Kevin Kelly’s recent attempt to justify Ockham’s Razor in terms of truth-finding efficiency. It is argued that Kelly’s justification fails to warrant confidence in the empirical content of theories recommended by Ockham’s Razor. This is a significant problem if, as Kelly and many others believe, considerations of simplicity play a pervasive role in scientific reasoning, underlying even our best tested theories, for the proposal will fail to warrant the use of these theories in practical prediction.
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  36. added 2012-04-10
    Unification and Revolution: A Paradigm for Paradigms.Nicholas Maxwell - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):133-149.
    Incommensurability was Kuhn’s worst mistake. If it is to be found anywhere in science, it would be in physics. But revolutions in theoretical physics all embody theoretical unification. Far from obliterating the idea that there is a persisting theoretical idea in physics, revolutions do just the opposite: they all actually exemplify the persisting idea of underlying unity. Furthermore, persistent acceptance of unifying theories in physics when empirically more successful disunified rivals can always be concocted means that physics makes a persistent (...)
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  37. added 2011-07-16
    When is Parsimony a Virtue.Michael Huemer - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (235):216-236.
    Parsimony is a virtue of empirical theories. Is it also a virtue of philosophical theories? I review four contemporary accounts of the virtue of parsimony in empirical theorizing, and consider how each might apply to two prominent appeals to parsimony in the philosophical literature, those made on behalf of physicalism and on behalf of nominalism. None of the accounts of the virtue of parsimony extends naturally to either of these philosophical cases. This suggests that in typical philosophical contexts, ontological simplicity (...)
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  38. added 2011-03-17
    A New Conception of Science.Nicholas Maxwell - 2000 - Physics World 13 (8):17-18.
    When scientists choose one theory over another, they reject out of hand all those that are not simple, unified or explanatory. Yet the orthodox view of science is that evidence alone should determine what can be accepted. Nicholas Maxwell thinks he has a way out of the dilemma.
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  39. added 2011-03-15
    Aim-Oriented Empiricism: David Miller's Critique.Nicholas Maxwell - 2006 - PhilSci Archive.
    For three decades I have expounded and defended aim-oriented empiricism, a view of science which, l claim, solves a number of problems in the philosophy of science and has important implications for science itself and, when generalized, for the whole of academic inquiry, and for our capacity to solve our current global problems. Despite these claims, the view has received scant attention from philosophers of science. Recently, however, David Miller has criticized the view. Miller’s criticisms are, however, not valid.
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