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Quantitative Parsimony

Daniel Nolan
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Sep., 1997), pp. 329-343
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/688066
Page Count: 15
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Quantitative Parsimony
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Abstract

In this paper, I motivate the view that quantitative parsimony is a theoretical virtue: that is, we should be concerned not only to minimize the number of kinds of entities postulated by our theories (i.e. maximize qualitative parsimony), but we should also minimize the number of entities postulated which fall under those kinds. In order to motivate this view, I consider two cases from the history of science: the postulation of the neutrino and the proposal of Avogadro's hypothesis. I also consider two issues concerning how a principle of quantitative parsimony should be framed.

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