I read here and here that, strictly speaking, there are no counterexamples to Occam's rozar, because the latter implies no need for pluralism when unecessary, which is to be understood as "for the theory to be correct". For example, if a simple theory like "all material entities are composed of fire, water, air, and earth" is false (as it is), the fact that the composition of matter is more complex it cannot be considered a valid counterexample.

But then, under this interpretation of necessity, Occam's razor become a bit of a tautology: "more realism/complexity is not needed unless it conforms with reality", or equivalently, "simple theories that do not conform with reality are false".

Thus, how precisely one is to interpret Occam's razor in order to enable counterexamples, and so that it does not become a useless tautology?

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    A lot of the posts in both of those links are horribly incorrect (especially the top Quora answer). I would suggest reading something like this to make sure that you have a correct understanding of Occam's razor and how it's treated in philosophy and so the posts you linked to above don't give you an incorrect impression of the topic. Occam's razor is explicitly a heuristic and there are other heuristics that say the opposite is true. – Not_Here Sep 30 '17 at 11:37
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    Additionally, it is a principle that does not help anything in saying how close to reality a theory is. All it is saying is that comparing two different, equally possible and valid theories, explaining all available and relevant facts, the one with fewer entities proposed is to be preferred. Whether one of them conforms to reality better than the other one (whatever this is supposed to mean), is not even relevant, nor implied. It is about good thinking, all things given (which might be complete bull****), not about true assertions about the "real world". – Philip Klöcking Sep 30 '17 at 12:19
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    @PhilipKlöcking But in the comparison you are assuming both theories are "equally possible and valid". How to judge "equally possible" if not statistically, which by Bayes principles is ultimately subjective? What makes a theory valid if not to make true assertions about the "real world"? (because if assertions were false, theory might not be possible or valid) Your definition seems tautological, or assuming the conclusion. – luchonacho Sep 30 '17 at 13:34
  • @luchonacho if two theories both give the same set of predictions which are in accordance with our empirical testing then they are "equally likely" to be true. You don't need statistical analysis or Bayesian epistemology or anything like that, you just need to observe data and see if both theories predict the correct outcome of experiments. Given Occam's razor, you assume the less complicated one is true until you have further evidence that proves it is true, or further evidence that proves the more complicated one is true. – Not_Here Sep 30 '17 at 13:55
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    @luchonacho You are missing the point completely. I didn't say statistical analysis isn't important to science. You are forgetting that you're talking about something in a philosophical context and not a scientific context. Science does not care about Occam's razor, philosophy does. You're asking about Occam's razor, so you're talking about philosophy. That is the entire point of "what we assume as a baseline theory until further evidence proves it one way or the other." That's philosophy waiting for science to give an answer, not the other way around. – Not_Here Sep 30 '17 at 14:52

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