Date of Original Version
Handbook for the Philosophy of Statistics, Prasanta S. Bandyopadhyay and Malcolm Forster eds., Dordrecht: Elsevier. 2010.
Abstract or Table of Contents
Simplicity has long been recognized as an apparent mark of truth in science, but it is difficult to explain why simplicity should be accorded such weight. This chapter examines some standard, statistical explanations of the role of simplicity in scientific method and argues that none of them explains, without circularity, how a reliance on simplicity could be conducive to finding true models or theories. The discussion then turns to a less familiar approach that does explain, in a sense, the elusive connection between simplicity and truth. The idea is that simplicity does not point at or reliably indicate the truth but, rather, keeps inquiry on the cognitively most direct path to the truth.