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When Is Parsimony a Virtue?

Michael Huemer
The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-)
Vol. 59, No. 235 (Apr., 2009), pp. 216-236
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40208597
Page Count: 21
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When Is Parsimony a Virtue?
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Abstract

Parsimony is a virtue of empirical theories. Is it also a virtue of philosophical theories? I review four contemporary accounts of the virtue of parsimony in empirical theorizing, and consider how each might apply to two prominent appeals to parsimony in the philosophical literature, those made on behalf of physicalism and on behalf of nominalism. None of the accounts of the virtue of parsimony extends naturally to either of these philosophical cases. This suggests that in typical philosophical contexts, ontological simplicity has no evidential value.

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