Ockham's razor, the principle of parsimony, states that simpler theories are better than theories that are more complex. It has a history dating back to Aristotle and it plays an important role in current physics, biology, and psychology. The razor also gets used outside of science - in everyday life and in philosophy. This book evaluates the principle and discusses its many applications. Fascinating examples from different domains provide a rich basis for contemplating the principle's promises and perils. It is obvious that simpler theories are beautiful and easy to understand; the hard problem is to figure out why the simplicity of a theory should be relevant to saying what the world is like. In this book, the ABCs of probability theory are succinctly developed and put to work to describe two 'parsimony paradigms' within which this problem can be solved.
|Publisher:||Cambridge University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Elliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2014 the Philosophy of Science Association awarded him the Carl Gustav Hempel Award for lifetime achievement in philosophy of science. His publications include: Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science (2008), Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?: Philosophical Essays on Darwin's Theory (2011) and Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior (1998, co-authored with David Wilson).
Table of ContentsIntroduction; 1. A history of parsimony in thin slices (from Aristotle to Morgan); 2. The probabilistic turn; 3. Parsimony in evolutionary biology - phylogenetic inference; 4. Parsimony in psychology - chimpanzee mind-reading; 5. Parsimony in philosophy; References.