Occam’s Hammer: Creationist Rhetoric and the Myth of Philosophical Naturalism

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By Connor J. O’Brien

As we are all aware, the recent publicity surrounding the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt and the Dover, PA case has led many academics outside of the biological sciences to weigh in on the place of Creationist ideas like Intelligent Design in the scientific discourse. The rhetoric of these missives will be familiar to anyone who’s paid attention to creationist attacks on the theory of evolution over the years. In short, there’s nothing new here, but I think one particular element of the specious reasoning often employed calls for a thorough analysis. The following quotations are just a small, representitive sample.

As a mere armchair philosopher with no qualifications in the sciences, I’ll let Andy C. McIntosh, Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds start:

A growing number of academics on both sides of the Atlantic are attracted to the straightforward logic of scientific reasoning.

The logical, coded machinery of DNA and the information system it carries shout design to an unprejudiced mind.

Letter in the London Times

Note the emphasis on “unprejudiced,” “straightforward logic.” With no stated qualifications in biology, the good professor would like us to take his word on the strength of his dispassionate intellect as it shines the cold light of reason on the controversy.

And here, from Theologian John Warwick Montgomery, we have the argument made in its purest form:

And what has happened to Occam’s razor—the fundamental scientific principle that, faced with two plausible explanations of the same phenomena, one should choose the simplest? Are Michael Behe, William Dembski, and the others dismissed by Orr perhaps doing better science than he when they argue that “if it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it’s a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it’s so obvious.”

An unpublished letter to the New Yorker

A blunt instrument indeed to use in Occam’s name. For the sake of argument, I’m going to pass over “two plausible explanations” and get to the heart of what is so badly flawed here. Occam’s razor, commonly known as the principle of parsimony, is most often rendered, from the Latin, as “Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” It is indeed a “fundamental scientific principle,” but Montgomery seems to advocate it as a method of determining the truth independently of any further empirical research. This would be fine, were he a contemporary of Occam and Aquinas, saddled with Aristotle as the received authority on empirical matters and lacking a method for further inquiry. But we now have such a method, which makes good use of the principle in the often overlooked, but decidedly non-trivial, process of selecting for consideration testable hypotheses upon which to perform further investigation. In terms of modern science, Montgomery’s appeal to parsimony badly abuses the notion of what we are prepared to consider a “simple” explanation.

Parsimony means we choose, for consideration, the hypothesis that asks us to make the fewest–and least unsupported–assumptions. Like most fundamental logic, the principle is a refinement of everyday reasoning, easily demonstrated to be “just common sense.” And so a short example may clarify matters. (Note that this is meant as an illustration only, and in no way bears the weight of the argument.) Say I am in my house, and I can’t find my keys. I entered some time ago, using the keys to get in, so I have every reason to believe they’re in the house somewhere. The answer to the question “where to look?” can be seen as the hypothesis I will test to try to determine the whereabouts of the keys. Now, a perfectly “simple” explanation might be: a malevolent fairy took the keys. Parsimony rejects it, though, not because we “know” there is no such thing as fairies, or because we have an ideological commitment to their non-existance, but simply because the existence of fairies is not a well-supported assumption. Alternatively, we may conclude that a burglar entered the house and made off with the keys. Burglars do, in fact, exist, but the assumptions entailed are that an individual with the means to break into my house was in the neighborhood and was motivated to enter my home just to steal my keys. Possible, but not well supported by prior experience. So, the parsimonious hypothesis is that I misplaced my keys and I should search my house. The pragmatic advantages of this reasoning are obvious: our search (research program) is constrained to an easily searchable area. In the fairy hypothesis, our search is utterly unconstrained (Iceland? The Faery Realm?), in the burglar hypothesis, our search is constrained, but only to the area in which the burglar could conceivably have travelled in the intervening time, several square miles, let’s say, and growing.

Since there are not, and are not ever likely to be, any details whatsoever about the mysterious creator/designer, we can see that his/her/its assumption is the very sort of thing that the principle of parsimony leads us to reject out of hand. As it can be offered as the explanation for absolutely anything, if we did not tacitly reject it from working hypotheses, we would have to empirically reject it first, and no scientific experiment would ever have been performed. (In the example of the keys, Creationism requires us to contemplate the Faery Realm before we’ve even started searching the house.)

Now, while I am irked to see a basic principle of logic abused in this way, and there is some satisfaction to be gained from “setting the record straight,” that in itself would not have been sufficient to prompt the current discussion. I think there may be more here than restoring the edge to Occam’s Razor.

Note that, as applied to scientific hypotheses, the principle is purely methodological. We use parsimony to constrain working hypotheses to the set of “probably testable” hypotheses. We are always free to return to the beginning and revise our stance on what constitutes a well-supported assumption. (If we conduct a truly exhaustive search, and still can’t find the keys, or, in searching, we discover that many other items are missing, the burglar hypothesis may gain support.) Since we are merely looking for a testable idea on which to do empirical research, we have specifically not committed ourselves to any position whatsoever. It is also important to emphasize that, by specifically concentrating on underlying assumptions, we avoid the purely pragmatic, but futile, method of “looking where the light is best” even when we know that what we seek is likely not there. This is exacly why parsimony is such a wonderful tool: it allows us to prefer pragmatic hypotheses without succumbing to methodological tunnel vision. With these points in mind, we can now appreciate that a crucial element of the legal/rhetorical argument put forth in favor of allowing creationist ideas into the science classroom has it exactly backward.

The creationist claim is that, while their ideas may be religious in nature, that should not count against them, because, due to its prior commitment to “Philosophical Naturalism” (equated with Atheism), the Theory of Evolution is a religious idea too. Setting aside the general incoherence of this as a legal strategy, we can see that Occam’s Razor, when sharpened and used properly, cuts right through the central claim. For is not “naturalism” simply one implication of parsimonious reasoning applied to the selection of hypotheses for consideration? After all, the same reasoning will eliminate a great number of hypotheses that ask us to make perfectly “natural,” but poorly supported, assumptions, as well as “supernatural” assumptions. Since the principle of parsimony is evidently fully acceptable (at least in name) to self-styled clear thinkers regardless of commitments to Theism or Atheism or any other postion, the claim that, in this one instance, its application amounts to a full-blown philosophical commitment is simply untenable.

In conclusion: There is nothing earth-shattering here. The poverty of general, logical objections to the theory of evolution is well understood by the regulars at The Panda’s Thumb. My aim has been, on one hand, to clearly highlight the misleading appeal to logic I’ve called Occam’s Hammer, and on the other, to show how the creationists have indeed landed a blow with that dubious instrument, but, sadly, it came down just slightly to the left of the nail, and squarely on their thumb.

Connor J. O’Brien is Textbook Manager at Ned’s Bookstore in Berkeley, California. He has studied philosophy and literature and maintains an active interest in the philosophy of science and evolutionary theory.

37 Comments

William of Occam provided the philsophical basis of the Reformation. For him the world was not the world of forms establish by Thomas Acquinas and the Scholastics. Occam believed these forms were in name only and thus was a nominalist. There was two kinds of God’s power. The first, potentia absoluta, where God can do anything and be utterly arbitrary. He could lie, he could make sin virtue and vice versa. Or there is potentia ordinata where God has decided to covenant with creation and operate in that manner. It is in this context we find his famous razor. The entities referenced above are Thomistic forms.

Occam held to the Bible being the only infallible source of authority, the fallibility of the pope, and the subordination of the church to the state. Occam shattered the scholastic synthesis and for that, Luther called him his “beloved master”.

So, why are the sons of Occam and Luther going back on him by re-affirming potentia absoluta, a.k.a. the god of the gaps? The naturalism inherent in Occam’s Razor is not crypto-atheism but rather the warp and woof of Protestant and thus Evangelical theology.

For is not “naturalism” simply one implication of parsimonious reasoning applied to the selection of hypotheses for consideration? After all, the same reasoning will eliminate a great number of hypotheses that ask us to make perfectly “natural,” but poorly supported, assumptions, as well as “supernatural” assumptions.

I do not see any reason why Ockhams razor would exclude supernatural hypotheses in principle. A supernatural hypothesis stated in sufficient detail, going into the motives of the supernatural agent, their methods and so on could be as scientific as any naturalistic hypothesis. It is, of course, the case that any supernatural hypothesis stated in such detail has been refuted; and most (including ID) are not stated in sufficient detail to have any testable predictions. But there there is no in principle reason why this must necessarilly be the case.

Yes, I didn’t really want those terms, hence the scare quotes, but it’s difficult to speak concisely about these topics without them. And I doubt that a “supernatural agent” whose methods and motives could be known in sufficient detail to feature in good hypotheses would attract much attention from biologists anyway, except as a specimen.

Since the principle of parsimony is evidently fully acceptable (at least in name) to self-styled clear thinkers regardless of commitments to Theism or Atheism or any other postion, the claim that, in this one instance, its application amounts to a full-blown philosophical commitment is simply untenable.

Let me de-lurk after many many months of reading to say that I enjoyed reading this post, Connor.

The statement in quotes above reminds me of how often creationists tend to argue that the “controversy” about intelligent design all boils down to “differing worldviews,” as if they actually are committed to refuting supernatural intervention at every turn, checking for gremlins at the scenes of car accidents and the like. You rarely hear them discuss all the time they devote to proving that their TV set is not possessed by evil spirits before calling the repairman.

You forgotto say that both McIntosh (Prof of Hot air at Leeds - a supposedly good British University) and Montgomery are both hardline YEC.

McIntosh wrote “Genesis for Today” Day one publications UK 1997/2001 arguing that Genesis must be taken literally. He has three appendices on “science” which are full of typical YEC howlers (or a non-literal interpretation of the ninth commandment) such as that radiometric dating is done only on igneous rcoks and cant be done on sedimentary rocks, circular reasoning on geol dating from evolution.

Also Mcintosh’s book is the main “science” book stocked by the Chrsitan Institute of Newcastle , UK who “sponsors” Emmanuel School and the other Vardy schools whereby British taxpapyers money is misused to pay ofr the teaching of YEC. Sadly our beloved Prime Minister Tony Bliar denies that. Sadly the Times of London would not publish my resonse to MacIntosh’s letter.

Re: Andy C. McIntosh, Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds

He has three appendices on “science” which are full of typical YEC howlers

Do those howlers include the abuse and misunderstanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics? If so, that’s grounds for a charge of incompetency at his own specialism.

To answer SEF, the first appendix is about the Second Law but my physics is not up to commenting on it, he refers to Wilder Smith and the aptly named Gitt. For Eigen he refers to Wilder Smith’s critique.

I always avoid aspects of science I dont follow and largely keep to geology, or to history of science and theology. Very few of us can be competent across the board, but YECs seem to be adept at misunderstanding anything they read!!

The incidence of Gremlins at the scene of car accidents has been steadily decreasing as fewer of the AMC cars are on the road.

I wonder what Professor McIntosh is researching? Well, would you believe it?

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/media/current/beetle.htm

Only familiarity with mechanisms of science allows us to distinguish between science and magic. Those unfamiliar with science will apply Occam’s razor in apparently bizarre ways.

I suppose if you sincerely believe that goddidit, then that’s not only the simplest and most obvious explanation, it’s also the only RIGHT explanation. Any other explanation is an inherent rejection of God.

Tom Curtis Wrote:

I do not see any reason why Ockhams razor would exclude supernatural hypotheses in principle. A supernatural hypothesis stated in sufficient detail, going into the motives of the supernatural agent, their methods and so on could be as scientific as any naturalistic hypothesis. It is, of course, the case that any supernatural hypothesis stated in such detail has been refuted; and most (including ID) are not stated in sufficient detail to have any testable predictions. But there there is no in principle reason why this must necessarilly be the case.

Parsimony requires that an assumption be supported by evidence. There has never been any evidence of any supernatural phenomina, certainly nothing that has ever been testable.

Supernatural explanations must be rejected out of hand because there is no way to test them.

Coming soon: Ockham’s toenail clippers.

Ken Shackleton Wrote:

Supernatural explanations must be rejected out of hand because there is no way to test them.

Not necessarily so. Some proposed supernatural explanations have testable natural consequences.

Example: the healing power of prayer. This example has been tested in many experiments. Two experiments in the last decade have even reported positive results! One of them is know to be fraudulent (Elisabeth Targ) and the second is strongly suspected to be fraudulent (Columbia prayer study).

Tom Curtis wrote:

I do not see any reason why Ockhams razor would exclude supernatural hypotheses in principle. A supernatural hypothesis stated in sufficient detail, going into the motives of the supernatural agent, their methods and so on could be as scientific as any naturalistic hypothesis. It is, of course, the case that any supernatural hypothesis stated in such detail has been refuted; and most (including ID) are not stated in sufficient detail to have any testable predictions. But there there is no in principle reason why this must necessarilly be the case.

In the case where the supernatural agent could be so well understood and studied in a sceintific manner, wouldn’t the supernatural cease to be “super”, and thus become merely “naural”?

Tom Curtis Wrote:

I do not see any reason why Ockhams razor would exclude supernatural hypotheses in principle. A supernatural hypothesis stated in sufficient detail, going into the motives of the supernatural agent, their methods and so on could be as scientific as any naturalistic hypothesis. It is, of course, the case that any supernatural hypothesis stated in such detail has been refuted; and most (including ID) are not stated in sufficient detail to have any testable predictions. But there there is no in principle reason why this must necessarilly be the case.

I really wonder if it is truly the case that Occam’s Razor does exclude supernatural hypotheses. From a phenomological perspective a naturalistic explanation of something is indistinguishable from potentia ordinata. Both will see the Universe exhibiting ordered, lawful, relationships. Thus, science procedes with methdological naturalism, not commenting why the Universe is lawful, but rather commenting that it is. ID doesn’t like that and tries to distinguish but then it leaves Occam’s Razor behind by adopting potentia absoluta. If and when God acts above or against natural law it is by definition not scientifically testable.

Complain what you want about this but remember that William of Occam was both a theist and pre-scientific. His razor was adopted because of its perfect fit with the scientific enterprise that followed. Since a theist came up with this in the first place, it stands to reason that theists can adopt it now by being methodological naturalists.

You forgotto say that both McIntosh (Prof of Hot air at Leeds - a supposedly good British University) and Montgomery are both hardline YEC.

I know. It’s just an unbelieveable combination of arrogance and, one can only assume, willful ignorance. The “unprejudiced mind” bit in that letter (which btw was brought to my attention by a Mr. Cordova: thanks, Sal, I guess) still causes me to grind my teeth a little.

Sal posted a link on another board to the London Times letters with the heading “Dawkins gets a whuppin’” So the fact that this kind of BS is apparently actually convincing to some people (like Dembski) was my motivation for writing this piece.

Occam’s Razor provides a fairly definitive case against the existence of gods. Gods are generally concieved to have expanded, or in the Xian case, unlimited, powers or degrees of freedom. To say that the answer to some conundrum (say the origin of things) is a god, is to solve one problem by creating an infinite number of problems (the nature of god(s)). The Xian god has essential inifinite degrees of freedom - to provide an answer to a mystery which is an even greater mystery is to provide worse than no answer at all from an information theoretic point of view.

Occam’s personal beliefs have little relevancy to the validity of his approach - he just didn’t see the full implications of what he was saying. Knowledge and liberation is a multistep, non-monotonic process.

I’ve always wondered about the utility of “Ockham’s razor” today, mainly because we have reasonably good ideas about causal efficacy (where “cause” is appropriate) and epistemological sufficiency that seem to make Ockham’s razor itself somewhat of a useless duplication.

Obviously, if “Godidit” were good enough to count as cause, we’d just say that “Godidit” whenever something happens. Ol’ William might be happy to cut to the chase and give God all responsibility, if it really was an efficacious answer for human existence. But no, we really have to do the work, regardless of whether or not God is the “ultimate cause”, since we clearly can handle only “efficient causes”.

However, if we do insist on causal efficacy (again, where appropriate), then multiplication of entities is not really going to be a problem. For instance, the “designer” answers no questions appropriately, as far as we know, and thus we are not going to invoke Him in science. One could say that we have evolutionary mechanisms which, whether they are sufficient or not, are not enhanced by the addition of a superfluous “designer”. Or more in line with current science, we could just say that we see no causal linkage between said “designer” and any effects in organisms.

I prefer the latter to bringing up William of Ockham. I suspect that the letter writers bring up the simplicity of their “ideas” because it’s superficially appealing and exactly because it does bypass the fact that we may need to multiply entities precisely because they are necessary under acceptable notions of scientific causation. I think Occam’s razor is more a plaything for simple minds today than being much of a guide to research (no disparagement intended of the good doctor, of course).

Why do ID enthusiasts assume that their explanation is simpler? Is it?

KC

Re “Why do ID enthusiasts assume that their explanation is simpler? Is it?”

What explanation? ;)

surprising that Andy McIntosh would push so hard for ID. I mean it’s not like he’s a regular contributor to Answers In Genesis and wrote a book that Ken Ham did the forward for or anything…

http://www.answersingenesis.org/hom[…]mcintosh.asp

SEF Wrote:

Do those howlers include the abuse and misunderstanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics? If so, that’s grounds for a charge of incompetency at his own specialism.

It never fails to amaze me that people continue to hold such gross misconceptions when they’ve probably witnessed its disproof hundreds of times:  a plant in a pot turning water, air and sunlight into organic matter.

How EASILY awed the opposition to evolution, and science in general, are! When it conflicts with the tiniest of their beliefs.

And how easily, and convenient, do they appropriation and trumpet any fragment of a fact that confirms (or can be bent to confirm, or can be misused to confirm) whatever prejudice they happen to be promoting at the moment!

I myself am awed by the coincidences that make up the Universe, especially Life, with its peculiar design and variations. I can respect, though thoroughly disagree until evidence is produced, with the theistic scientist about the ultimate source of these coincidences over this point. I cannot respect, and after years of reading them hardly maintain civility, the bullying, uncurious, and too, too often deceitful mass that, for reasons of fear and hatred opposes any idea that challenges the lies that they falsely believe comfort and empower them.

How EASILY awed the opposition to evolution, and science in general, are! When it conflicts with the tiniest of their beliefs.

And how easily, and convenient, do they appropriation and trumpet any fragment of a fact that confirms (or can be bent to confirm, or can be misused to confirm) whatever prejudice they happen to be promoting at the moment!

I myself am awed by the coincidences that make up the Universe, especially Life, with its peculiar design and variations. I can respect, though thoroughly disagree until evidence is produced, with the theistic scientist about the ultimate source of these coincidences over this point. I cannot respect, and after years of reading them hardly maintain civility, the bullying, uncurious, and too, too often deceitful mass that, for reasons of fear and hatred opposes any idea that challenges the lies that they falsely believe comfort and empower them.

nihilan Wrote:

In the case where the supernatural agent could be so well understood and studied in a sceintific manner, wouldn’t the supernatural cease to be “super”, and thus become merely “na[t]ural”?

Not necessarily. If the agent were immaterial and tended to defy what we would consider natural laws. Imagine interviewing an angel, for example, especially if it glowed, flew, frightened your neighbors, etc.

There’s nothing about Ockham’s razor that per se includes or excludes supernatural entities. Indeed, if we didn’t see vestigial organs, if we didn’t see animals with homologous structures even when the structures were suboptimal, if we didn’t see dormant retroviral DNA shared by the genomes of various similar animals in similar locates on their genomes, or if we didn’t see junk DNA in general, and if we did see sudden discontinuities in the fossil record and signs of a relatively young Earth, then “God did it” would start to look like a pretty good theory. It’s that what we see is just the opposite of that, rather than Ockham’s razor, that leads to the favoring of the theory of evolution over a “God did it” approach.

Bayesian Bouffant Wrote:

Not necessarily so. Some proposed supernatural explanations have testable natural consequences.

Example: the healing power of prayer. This example has been tested in many experiments. Two experiments in the last decade have even reported positive results! One of them is know to be fraudulent (Elisabeth Targ) and the second is strongly suspected to be fraudulent (Columbia prayer study).

The problem with such a test is that even a positive result cannot be trusted. This is because an omnipotent god [assuming he exists] can choose to ignore the prayers the next time.

You could set up another experiment, exact in every detail; and if the god you are praying to chooses to ignore the prayers this time.….then what?

Sorry.….when it comes to science.…god is out of the equation.…period!

Ken, I have a better scenario.

As I asked the Talented Mr. Finley on another thread, what if we test prayer efficacy for language, divinity prayed to, and so on, and it turns out that top efficacy is obtained by prayers recited in Japanese by martial art practitioners in full garb addressing our collective ancestors?

They should be very careful what they, ahem, pray for…

J.J.Ramsey said

There’s nothing about Ockham’s razor that per se includes or excludes supernatural entities. Indeed, if we didn’t see vestigial organs, if we didn’t see animals with homologous structures even when the structures were suboptimal, if we didn’t see dormant retroviral DNA shared by the genomes of various similar animals in similar locates on their genomes, or if we didn’t see junk DNA in general, and if we did see sudden discontinuities in the fossil record and signs of a relatively young Earth, then “God did it” would start to look like a pretty good theory. It’s that what we see is just the opposite of that, rather than Ockham’s razor, that leads to the favoring of the theory of evolution over a “God did it” approach.

Quite so. I have not said that Occam’s razor, in itself, gives us a reason nearly as good as any you cite here to accept evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life. I have suggested that it bars the way toward hypotheses that assume the existence of an unknowably-potent entity who has the means and opportunity to arbitrarily fiddle with the things we wish to study.

Imagine interviewing an angel, for example, especially if it glowed, flew, frightened your neighbors, etc.

What’s supernatural about that?

The problem with such a test is that even a positive result cannot be trusted. This is because an omnipotent god [assuming he exists] can choose to ignore the prayers the next time.

You could set up another experiment, exact in every detail; and if the god you are praying to chooses to ignore the prayers this time . ….then what?

Sorry . ….when it comes to science . …god is out of the equation . …period!

Yes. And you identify exactly why – and it has nothing to do with DI’s yammering about “materialistic bias”.

The scientific method demands that all hypotheses be tested. Alas, supernatural hypotheses CANNOT be tested. Hence, science cannot consider them. What the IDers want, in a nutshell, is for science to accept their “supernaturalistic hypotheses” WITHOUT testing them. Indeed, IDers seem to be arguing that it’s UNFAIR to ask that their “supernatural hypotheses” be tested, the same way that every OTHER scientific hypotheses has to be. What the IDers want, pure and simple, is “special privileges” for their, uh, “hypotheses”. And I see no reason why they should get them. I see no reason why their “hypotheses” should be treated any differently than anyone else’s. Until IDers demonstrate a way to test their hypotheses using the scientific method, there simply is no reason at all for science to pay any attention to them.

Lenny:

The scientific method demands that all hypotheses be tested. Alas, supernatural hypotheses CANNOT be tested. Hence, science cannot consider them. What the IDers want, in a nutshell, is for science to accept their “supernaturalistic hypotheses” WITHOUT testing them. Indeed, IDers seem to be arguing that it’s UNFAIR to ask that their “supernatural hypotheses” be tested, the same way that every OTHER scientific hypotheses has to be.

With regard to the first point. A supernatural hypothesis may not be testable in every detail, but neither are natural hypotheses. This means poorly or loosely specified supernatural hypotheses cannot be tested (as also with natural hypotheses). But in principle, detailed hypotheses can be tested. Of course, such detail almost mandates a detailed model of the motives of the supernatural; and you are quite right that by refusing to elaborate such a model, IDists wish to exempt their “theories” from the standards of science.

Re: Testing Supernatural Hypotheses…

Lore has it that some supernatural entities have mandated behaviors in response to human actions. I propose a rigorous study involving leaving many different kinds of pairs of shoes on the doorstep overnight, and observing the results.

If the shoe fits… ;)

Ken Shackleton wrote: “You could set up another experiment, exact in every detail; and if the god you are praying to chooses to ignore the prayers this time . ….then what?

Sorry . ….when it comes to science . …god is out of the equation . …period!”

The only reason God is out of the equation is because he apparently never does anything anywhere. If a god were to act as Ken suggests, perhaps sometimes acting on the prayers of his followers, then there could still be solid science attached to it. It wouldn’t be as deterministic as say dropping a shot put, but it could be more like psychology. You might find that prayers are more likely to be answered on Sunday, or more likely to be granted to the most pious. The fact that we don’t already have rules of thumb like this is not because you can’t make a scientific study that is a statistical study. It is because there is nothing to study.

Glen Davidson wrote:

“I’ve always wondered about the utility of “Ockham’s razor” today, mainly because we have reasonably good ideas about causal efficacy (where “cause” is appropriate) and epistemological sufficiency that seem to make Ockham’s razor itself somewhat of a useless duplication.”

I have argued along somewhat similar lines that Ockham’s Razor does not play such an important role in science as might be supposed, following Bohr’s claim that parsimony is always decided after the fact. I would be interested in your feedback.

Hi

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