David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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This paper presents a new explanation of how preferring the simplest theory compatible with experience assists one in ﬁnding the true answer to a scientiﬁc question when the answers are theories or models. Inquiry is portrayed as an unending game between science and nature in which the scientist aims to converge to the true theory on the basis of accumulating information. Simplicity is a topological invariant reﬂecting sequences of theory choices that nature can force an arbitrary, convergent scientist to produce. It is demonstrated that among the methods that converge to the truth in an empirical problem, the ones that do so with a minimum number of reversals of opinion prior to convergence are exactly the ones that prefer simple theories. The approach explains not only simplicity tastes in model selection, but aspects of theory testing and the unwillingness of natural science to break symmetries without a reason.
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