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


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The theory that has been elaborated and defended in the preceding chapter justifies the use of simplicity in hypothesis choice on the grounds that informativeness is one of our goals in choosing hypotheses and, according to the theory, simplicity is informativeness. But what justifies the theory of simplicity? Since it is a theory like any other, its justification derives from its being sufficiently supported and simple. That is, we should assess the adequacy of the theory by subjecting it to the canons of hypothesis choice outlined in Section 1.9. In part, this involves applying the theory to itself. To give substance to the dual claim that the use of simplicity is justified relative to our theory, and that our theory is justified relative to the rules of hypothesis choice, we must first give some account of what a justification is. This can be done by examining Goodman's views on the relationship between justifying induction and describing it. His position is built on a fundamentally correct analogy between deductive and inductive inference. This chapter presents a view that differs from Goodman's while remaining true to the spirit of his analogy.

Keywords: simplicity theory; justification; Goodman; hypothesis; informativeness

Chapter.  5876 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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