When is parsimony a virtue?

Philosophical Quarterly 59 (235):216-236 (2009)
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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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9213.2008.569.x
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (1983). New Work for a Theory of Universals. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (December):343-377.
J. J. C. Smart (1959). Sensations and Brain Processes. Philosophical Review 68 (April):141-56.
Terence E. Horgan (1982). Supervenience and Microphysics. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 63 (January):29-43.
Daniel Nolan (1997). Quantitative Parsimony. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):329-343.

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Citations of this work BETA
Jonathan Schaffer (2014). What Not to Multiply Without Necessity. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):644-664.
M. B. Willard (2014). Against Simplicity. Philosophical Studies 167 (1):165-181.
Michael Huemer (2009). Explanationist Aid for the Theory of Inductive Logic. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):345-375.

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