Occam’s Razor, guide to inquiry

Recommended thematic notebook

Regretfully I didn’t catch the artist’s name. Exhibited at the Minnesota Street Project, Fall 2017

Occam’s Razor [Notebook]

Author: Cosma Shalizi

Link: http://bactra.org/notebooks/occams-razor.html


I am very partial to the idea of Kevin Kelly (disclaimer: a friend) that the Razor is valuable not as a description of the universe, but as a guide to inquiry. That is, by sticking to the simplest theory compatible with the evidence, we converge on the truth faster than if we made up un-necessary complexities. This is nearly the only work on justifying the Razor I know of which doesn’t either beg the question, change the subject, or make massive assumptions about the nature of the world, Divine Providence, etc.
Pedro Domingos, “The Role of Occam’s Razor in Knowledge Discovery,” Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, 3 (1999) [Online]
Kevin Kelly (et al.), Ockham’s Razor and Truth
William of Occam, Philosophical Writings: A Selection (translated with an introduction and notes by Philotheus Boehner, O.F.M.)
Conflicted about recommending:
CRS, “Ockham Workshop”, Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 [The work reported on is excellent, but the report itself is written in a needlessly self-indulgent style]
To read:
Kevin T. Kelly, The Logic of Reliable Inquiry [Includes cartoons by the author]
Kevin T. Kelly, “How Simplicity Helps You Find the Truth without Pointing at It”
Kevin T. Kelly, “Simplicity, Truth, and the Unending Game of Science” [PDF preprint]
Elliot Sober, Ockham’s Razors: A User’s Manual
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