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CANCELLED Elliott Sober: Ockham’s Razor – When Is the Simpler Theory Better?

When:Mo 18-05-2020
Where:TBA, Groningen

This lecture has been cancelled as a result of measures taken to contain the outbreak of the corona virus and will NOT take place on 18 May 2020.

Ockham’s razor, the principle of parsimony, says that a theory that postulates fewer entities, causes, or processes is “better” than a theory that postulates more, so long as the simpler theory is compatible with what we observe.  But what does “better” mean?  It is obvious that simpler theories are easier to remember, manipulate, and test.  The hard problem is to say why the fact that one theory is simpler than another is relevant to deciding what the world is like.  In this lecture I’ll describe two “parsimony paradigms” within which this hard problem can be solved.  

Elliott Sober is Professor in Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, and Philosophy of Mind at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his PhD in philosophy from Harvard University under the supervision of Hilary Putnam in 1974. Professor Sober’s areas of research are philosophy of science and philosophy of evolutionary biology.

The annual GRIPh lecture is organized by the Faculty of Philosophy in collaboration with Studium Generale Groningen.