Let's define Occam's razor as this:

  • That it is not rational to believe something unnecessary or extra about reality without a specific reason to believe it. In other words, the facts that are required or assumed by some explanation are unnecessary beliefs if you could have chosen some different explanation, which didn't have those same fact requirements but is equally consistent with what is observed; it is irrational to believe the explanation requiring more unnecessary beliefs.

Does Hume believe this personally?

If so, does he also assume it in his Enquiry?

If he believes it, does he think it is a relation of ideas or a matter of fact?

  • 1
    i am finding your question difficult to read/make sense of. maybe you should use quotes for the defitnion of occam's razor, e.g. the "simpler explanation of an entity is to be preferred"
    – user67675
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 18:18
  • @prof_ghost I wish to use, for the purposes of this question, the definition of Occam's razor that I typed. The question is just asking if Hume agrees with the statement.
    – BigMistake
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 18:32
  • the definition doesn't make sense to me. it could be that you just need to fix some typos
    – user67675
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 18:33
  • @prof_ghost What part of it? If I know, then I can edit to clarify.
    – BigMistake
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 18:34
  • 3
    Are you sure you defined Occam’s Razor correctly? Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 19:16

2 Answers 2


What does Hume think about Occam’s Razor?

This timely article might be helpful: "The Philosophy of Security Risk Assessments," By Mark Ashford (13 November 2023); from https://www.asisonline.org/security-management-magazine

It turns out that Hume did not just use a razor; he had a whole guillotine! From the article:

Another razor than can be applied to our line of work is that of Hume’s razor, also known as Hume’s guillotine or the is–ought problem. Hume’s razor is not too distant from Occam’s razor, and it asks that whenever we are piecing together information to reach an explanation, we should prefer the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions. (Emphasis in original)

  • 2
    What is called Hume's guillotine is IMO quite different from Occam's razor, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_razor. Hume's guillotine prohibits to derive a norm as a conclusion from premisses which all are facts, no other norm. Otherwise one makes an Is-Ought fallacy.
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 20:58

Is there an agreed wording of the definition? If not, I prefer to call it the principle of parsimony. It is a philosophical tool. I do not know what Hume believed.

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