Simplicity as Informativeness

Elliott Sober

in Simplicity

Published in print December 1975 | ISBN: 9780198244073
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680724 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Simplicity as Informativeness

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This chapter develops a theory of simplicity. An inverse relationship exists between the informativeness of a hypothesis H (relative to a question Q) and the amount of extra information that H requires to answer Q. That is, the more informative a hypothesis is, the less extra information it needs to imply an answer. This inverse relationship recapitulates the inverse relationship between our knowledge claims and our experience: the more informative our knowledge claims are about the properties of the individuals in our environment, the less we need to find out about the special details of an arbitrary individual before we can say what its properties are. Thus, the informativeness of a hypothesis manifests the redundancy of the world it describes.

Keywords: knowledge claims; hypothesis; questions; informativeness; simplicity

Chapter.  13588 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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