Chapter

Simplicity as a Pragmatic Criterion for Deciding What Hypotheses to Take Seriously

Gilbert Harman

in Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238027
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597633 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198238029.003.0004
 Simplicity as a Pragmatic Criterion for Deciding What Hypotheses to Take Seriously

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Simplicity is used in curve‐fitting and can be illustrated by Goodman's ‘new riddle of induction.’ Taking the simplicity of a hypothesis to depend entirely on the simplicity of the way it is represented does not work, because simplicity of representation is too dependent on the method of representation, and any hypothesis can be represented simply. An alternative ‘semantic’ theory also has problems. A ‘computational’ theory is defended that considers how easy it is to use a hypothesis to get answers to questions in which one is interested.

Keywords: curve‐fitting; Nelson Goodman; grue; induction; new riddle of induction; pragmatism; simplicity

Chapter.  6849 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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