27 votes
Accepted

How could both Occam's Razor and complex theories like Quantum Mechanics be correct at the same time?

The more complex and numerous the phenomena that are to be explained, the more complex the theories with ever more necessary entities that have to be proclaimed for explaining them. Occam's Razor in ...
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13 votes
Accepted

How is Occam's Razor reconciled with consideration of less likely scenarios?

I find the wording of Occam's razor to lead people astray. Its wording suggests that it is always good to select a hypothesis. I prefer to adulterate his words, and in doing so, believe I get closer ...
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12 votes

How could both Occam's Razor and complex theories like Quantum Mechanics be correct at the same time?

Let me post the simple answer. Occam's razor advises that: Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Now the thing is, that the simple hypotheses (eg. ...
10 votes

How is Occam's Razor reconciled with consideration of less likely scenarios?

This is a great question, but I think it's based on a slight misunderstanding of the Razor. The principle does not suggest that you should not consider or investigate less likely interpretations — on ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Can the simplicity of a hypothesis be objectively measured?

Yes, see Solomonoff's theory of inductive inference. The idea is that you start with a formal language that lets you formally describe mutually exclusive hypotheses. And then we can measure simplicity ...
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4 votes

Is Occam's razor about finding the "Best" or the "Worst"?

So far as I can see, Ockham's Razor is simply a methodological rule, a principle of parsimony, that tells us not to assume more than we absolutely have to in order to explain something - an object, an ...
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4 votes
Accepted

Is Occam's Razor a Prior?

You might be interested in Epistemic Justification by Richard Swinburne (he was applying Bayes to philosophical issues before Bayesian epistemology became cool), especially the section The Criterion ...
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4 votes

When did Occam's razor historically become a common methodological precept?

The kernel idea of Ockham's razor as a choice heuristic has been recorded long before Ockham's dictum. In Physics (Book 1, Chapter 6), Aristotle says that Since, then, one antithesis will suffice, it ...
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3 votes

Occam's razor and believing that the world is flat

If in fact your farmer is constrained to always be within a few miles of his home (vertically too), then to within a few feet of elevation (which is probably swamped by topography anyway) the Earth is ...
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3 votes

How could both Occam's Razor and complex theories like Quantum Mechanics be correct at the same time?

Quantum mechanics is a theory from physics, while Occam's Razor - see its wording from Philip Kloecking's answer - is a heuristic from the theory of science. As long as we do not have a better ...
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3 votes
Accepted

Thermodynamics of Occam's Razor

In terms of Bayesian hypothesis testing, Occam's razor is incorporated in the prior probabilities of the hypotheses. Often one can interpret differences in the prior probabilities as being "entropic"....
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3 votes

Why are physical laws so simple?

we can see that a large proportion of physical equations are extremely simple this is because we have developed these for our understanding of all these units and values. Many phenomena can be ...
3 votes

Why are physical laws so simple?

Firstly, let me concur that GR is very simple. Yes, the maths is complex in the sense of few people can follow it, but the fact is that people can follow it. That means it is very simple in the space ...
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3 votes

Is Occam's razor about finding the "Best" or the "Worst"?

In machine learning and statistics Occam's razor has a precise mathematical interpretation: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam_learning The basic idea is that by focusing on simpler explanations ...
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3 votes

Is Occam's Razor a Prior?

Without any background information of a specific situation, generally Occam's Razor is not considered a priori first principle but aesthetic and heuristic according to reference here: The ...
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2 votes

Isn't anti razor as valid as Occam razor in explaining the Universe and things in it?

You seem to be confusing a very fundamental distinction. And mixing up symbols and whatever they are about. To "explain" something is not to "reproduced" or "expand" it. It is to "reduce" it in some ...
2 votes

How is Occam's Razor reconciled with consideration of less likely scenarios?

Comment for "Bonus question" The original "context" of Ockham's Razor was quite different from modern "naive" interpretations : Ockham's “nominalism,” [...] is often ...
2 votes

How could both Occam's Razor and complex theories like Quantum Mechanics be correct at the same time?

Ockham's original formulation goes like this : Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate Roughly translated, it means this : Plurality is never to be posited without necessity. Note the ...
2 votes

Is there a difference between things that can't be interacted with and things that don't exist?

There does not seem to be a necessary link between existence and capable-of-being-interacted-with-ness. This is to say that the sets of things that exist and things that can be interacted with need ...
2 votes

How could both Occam's Razor and complex theories like Quantum Mechanics be correct at the same time?

Quantum mechanics is a simple theory, you're just trying to understand it from a highly complex point of view! As any theory explains deeper and more fundamental units of the universe, they get ...
2 votes
Accepted

What is Wittgenstein referring to in 4.113

The so-called Demarcation Problem is a little bit later, emerging with Vienna Circle and Popper. But its origins are in the Tractatus : 4.03 A proposition communicates a situation to us, and so it ...
2 votes

How could Occam's razor possibly be used metaphysically?

Let me point out, first, that Occam's Razor is not a law; it's a rule-of-thumb that has more to do with pragmatics and aesthetics than necessity. It's a good rule of thumb, sure, but it is based on an ...
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2 votes

Occam's razor and the Multiverse Hypotesis

According to Wikipedia the association of Occam's razor to many worlds goes back to Hugh Everett who originated the idea of many worlds in 1957: Since the wavefunction merely appears to have ...
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2 votes
Accepted

How do you rebut the Argument from Ignorance?

The usual rejection is the principle of falsifiability, also known as the verification principle. It demands that for any statement to mean anything, it must be possible to test it for truth or ...
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2 votes

Limitations to Occam's razor

I am particularly interested when Occam's razor is applied within the field of computer science and engineering [...] An software engineer's perspective: Occam's razor is bit more subtle than '...
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2 votes

Is Occam's Razor a Prior?

Occam's razor occurs in the context of science. Very often, the focus is on novel phenomena, so with no priors available. The generalisation, we call: physics. In hypothesis generation to account for ...
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2 votes

Is Occam's Razor a Prior?

(After MacKay, 1992, Neural Comput. 4(3):415-447, doi:10.1162/neco.1992.4.3.415) No. The Bayesian version of Occam's razor doesn't arise from the prior, it arises from the likelihood, i.e. from the ...

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