Date of Original Version

12-10-2007

Type

Article

Published In

Handbook of the Philosophy of Information, J. van Behthem and P. Adriaans, Dordrecht: Elsevier 2008.

Rights Management

All Rights Reserved

Abstract or Table of Contents

In science, one faces the problem of selecting the true theory from a range of alternative theories. The typical response is to select the simplest theory compatible with available evidence, on the authority of "Ockham's Razor". But how can a fixed bias toward simplicity help one find possibly complex truths? A short survey of standard answers to this question reveals them to be either wishful, circular, or irrelevant. A new explanation is presented, based on minimizing the reversals of opinion prior to convergence to the truth. According to this alternative approach, Ockham's razor does not inform one which theory is true but is, nonetheless, the uniquely most efficient strategy for arriving at the true theory, where efficiency is a matter of minimizing reversals of opinion prior to finding the true theory.

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