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  1. Review of 'Theoretical Virtues in Science' by Samuel Schindler. [REVIEW]Darren Bradley - manuscript
  2. Note on Simplicity and Statistical Explanations of Correlations.Chrysovalantis Stergiou - manuscript
    In this note, I discuss the simplicity of rival statistical explanations of a correlation, couched in terms of Reichenbachian Common Cause Systems. Simplicity is analyzed in two components, the so-called intrinsic and contextual simplicity. I show that if one disentangles simplicity from explanatory power then the size of the system provides an adequate for simplicity in both of its dimensions.
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  3. Minimum Message Length as a Truth-Conducive Simplicity Measure.Steve Petersen - manuscript
    given at the 2007 Formal Epistemology Workshop at Carnegie Mellon June 2nd. Good compression must track higher vs lower probability of inputs, and this is one way to approach how simplicity tracks truth.
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  4. Judgments of Beauty in Theory Evaluation.Devon Brickhouse-Bryson - forthcoming - Lexington Books.
    The role of judgments of beauty in scientific theory evaluation is the subject of significant debate in contemporary philosophy of science. This book advances that debate by broadening its scope. In Judgments of Beauty in Theory Evaluation, the author argues that judgments of beauty are a justified part of theory evaluation of all sorts: not only scientific theory evaluation, but also philosophical theory evaluation. The author argues for this thesis by providing an account of beauty—inherited from Kant and Mothersill—on which (...)
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  5. Theoretical Virtues in Scientific Practice: An Empirical Study.Moti Mizrahi - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    It is a common view among philosophers of science that theoretical virtues (also known as epistemic or cognitive values), such as simplicity and consistency, play an important role in scientific practice. In this paper, I set out to study the role that theoretical virtues play in scientific practice empirically. I apply the methods of data science, such as text mining and corpus analysis, to study large corpora of scientific texts in order to uncover patterns of usage. These patterns of usage, (...)
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  6. Telling Stories in Science: Feyerabend and Thought Experiments.Michael T. Stuart - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science:000-000.
    The history of the philosophy of thought experiments has touched on the work of Kuhn, Popper, Duhem, Mach, Lakatos, and other big names of the 20th century, but so far, almost nothing has been written about Paul Feyerabend. His most influential work was Against Method, 8 chapters of which concern a case study of Galileo with a specific focus on Galileo’s thought experiments. In addition, the later Feyerabend was very interested in what might be called the epistemology of drama, including (...)
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  7. Simplicity of What? A Case Study From Generative Linguistics.Giulia Terzian & María Inés Corbalán - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    The Minimalist Program in generative linguistics is predicated on the idea that simplicity is a defining property of the human language faculty, on the one hand; on the other, a central aim of linguistic theorising. Worryingly, however, justifications for either claim are hard to come by in the literature. We sketch a proposal that would allow for both shortcomings to be addressed, and that furthermore honours the program’s declared commitment to naturalism. We begin by teasing apart and clarifying the different (...)
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  8. Biocentric Individualism and Biodiversity Conservation: An Argument From Parsimony.Patrik Baard - 2021 - Environmental Values 30 (1):93-110.
    This article argues that holistic ecocentrism unnecessarily introduces elements to explain why we ought to halt biodiversity loss. I suggest that atomistic accounts can justify the same conclusion by utilising fewer elements. Hence, why we ought to preserve biodiversity can be made reasonable without adding elements such as intrinsic values of ecosystems or moral obligations to conserve collectives of organisms. Between two equally good explanations of the same phenomenon, the explanation utilising fewer elements, which speaks in favour of atomistic accounts, (...)
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  9. Why Simpler Computer Simulation Models Can Be Epistemically Better for Informing Decisions.Casey Helgeson, Vivek Srikrishnan, Klaus Keller & Nancy Tuana - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (2):213-233.
    For computer simulation models to usefully inform climate risk management, uncertainties in model projections must be explored and characterized. Because doing so requires running the model many ti...
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  10. Classical Form or Modern Scientific Rationalization? Nietzsche on the Drive to Ordered Thought as Apollonian Power and Socratic Pathology.Eli I. Lichtenstein - 2021 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 52 (1):105-134.
    Nietzsche sometimes praises the drive to order—to simplify, organize, and draw clear boundaries—as expressive of a vital "classical" style, or an Apollonian artistic drive to calmly contemplate forms displaying "epic definiteness and clarity." But he also sometimes harshly criticizes order, as in the pathological dialectics or "logical schematism" that he associates paradigmatically with Socrates. I challenge a tradition that interprets Socratism as an especially one-sided expression of, or restricted form of attention to, the Apollonian: they are more radically disparate. Beyond (...)
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  11. The Two Blades of Occam's Razor in Economics: Logical and Heuristic.Giandomenica Becchio - 2020 - Economic Thought 9 (1):1.
    This paper is part of the general debate about the need to rethink economics as a human discipline using a heuristic to describe its object, about the need to explicitly reject the positivistic approach in neoclassical economics, and about the urgency to adopt a different methodology, grounded on a realistic set of initial assumptions able to cope with the complexity of the decision making process. The aim of this paper is to show the use of Occam's razor in the economic (...)
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  12. The Structure of Epistemic Probabilities.Nevin Climenhaga - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3213-3242.
    The epistemic probability of A given B is the degree to which B evidentially supports A, or makes A plausible. This paper is a first step in answering the question of what determines the values of epistemic probabilities. I break this question into two parts: the structural question and the substantive question. Just as an object’s weight is determined by its mass and gravitational acceleration, some probabilities are determined by other, more basic ones. The structural question asks what probabilities are (...)
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  13. Why Ockham’s Razor Should Be Preferred to the Laser.Dean Da Vee - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3679-3694.
    Ockham’s Razor advises us to not multiply entities without necessity. Recently, Jonathan Schaffer and Karen Bennett have argued that we ought to replace Ockham’s Razor with the Laser, the principle that only advises us to not multiply fundamental entities without necessity. In this paper, I argue that Ockham’s Razor is preferable to the Laser. I begin by contending that the arguments offered for the Laser by Schaffer and Bennett are unpersuasive. Then I offer two cases of theory assessment that I (...)
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  14. PAC Learning and Occam’s Razor: Probably Approximately Incorrect.Daniel A. Herrmann - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (4):685-703.
    Computer scientists have provided a distinct justification of Occam’s Razor. Using the probably approximately correct framework, they provide a theorem that they claim demonstrates that we should favor simpler hypotheses. The argument relies on a philosophical interpretation of the theorem. I argue that the standard interpretation of the result in the literature is misguided and that a better reading does not, in fact, support Occam’s Razor at all. To this end, I state and prove a very similar theorem that, if (...)
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  15. The Intrinsic Probability of Grand Explanatory Theories.Ted Poston - 2020 - Faith and Philosophy 37 (4):401-420.
    This paper articulates a way to ground a relatively high prior probability for grand explanatory theories apart from an appeal to simplicity. I explore the possibility of enumerating the space of plausible grand theories of the universe by using the explanatory properties of possible views to limit the number of plausible theories. I motivate this alternative grounding by showing that Swinburne’s appeal to simplicity is problematic along several dimensions. I then argue that there are three plausible grand views—theism, atheism, and (...)
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  16. Unification and the Myth of Purely Reductive Understanding.Michael J. Shaffer - 2020 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 27:142-168.
    In this paper significant challenges are raised with respect to the view that explanation essentially involves unification. These objections are raised specifically with respect to the well-known versions of unificationism developed and defended by Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher. The objections involve the explanatory regress argument and the concepts of reduction and scientific understanding. Essentially, the contention made here is that these versions of unificationism wrongly assume that reduction secures understanding.
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  17. An Automatic Ockham’s Razor for Bayesians?Gordon Belot - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (6):1361-1367.
    It is sometimes claimed that the Bayesian framework automatically implements Ockham’s razor—that conditionalizing on data consistent with both a simple theory and a complex theory more or less inevitably favours the simpler theory. It is shown here that the automatic razor doesn’t in fact cut it for certain mundane curve-fitting problems.
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  18. Naturalness of Properties and Simplicity of Theories.Matej Drobňák - 2019 - Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 41 (1):3-19.
    In this paper, I discuss a specific approach to measuring and comparing the simplicity of theories that is based on Lewis’s notion of fundamental properties. In particular, I discuss the criterion of simplicity as stated by Williams. According to Williams, the best candidate for a theory is the one which has the shortest definition in terms of fundamental properties. The aim of this paper is to show that the criterion thus specified has two constraints. First, the criterion is not applicable (...)
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  19. Acquaintance, Parsimony, and Epiphenomenalism.Brie Gertler - 2019 - In Sam Coleman (ed.), The Knowledge Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 62-86.
    Some physicalists (Balog 2012, Howell 2013), and most dualists, endorse the acquaintance response to the Knowledge Argument. This is the claim that Mary gains substantial new knowledge, upon leaving the room, because phenomenal knowledge requires direct acquaintance with phenomenal properties. The acquaintance response is an especially promising way to make sense of the Mary case. I argue that it casts doubt on two claims often made on behalf of physicalism, regarding parsimony and mental causation. I show that those who endorse (...)
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  20. A Scientific Metaphysics and Ockham’s Razor.Bruce Long - 2019 - Axiomathes (5):1-31.
    I argue that although Ockham’s Razor (OR) has its origins in a-priorist ontological mandates according to the purposes of natural theology and natural philosophy as influenced by it, the principle has taken on significant empirical and contingent materialist connotations and conceptual content since the scientific revolution. I briefly discuss the pluralism of the concept of OR historically and in contemporary science and philosophy. I then attempt to align scientific metaphysics with contemporary conceptions of OR, and to demonstrate that ontic parsimony (...)
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  21. A Simplicity Criterion for Physical Computation.Tyler Millhouse - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):153-178.
    The aim of this paper is to offer a formal criterion for physical computation that allows us to objectively distinguish between competing computational interpretations of a physical system. The criterion construes a computational interpretation as an ordered pair of functions mapping (1) states of a physical system to states of an abstract machine, and (2) inputs to this machine to interventions in this physical system. This interpretation must ensure that counterfactuals true of the abstract machine have appropriate counterparts which are (...)
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  22. Composition as Pattern.Steve Petersen - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (5):1119-1139.
    I argue for patternism, a new answer to the question of when some objects compose a whole. None of the standard principles of composition comfortably capture our natural judgments, such as that my cat exists and my table exists, but there is nothing wholly composed of them. Patternism holds, very roughly, that some things compose a whole whenever together they form a “real pattern”. Plausibly we are inclined to acknowledge the existence of my cat and my table but not of (...)
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  23. The Interpretive-Sensory Access Theory of Self-Knowledge: Simplicity and Coherence with Surrounding Theories.Paulius Rimkevičius - 2019 - Problemos 96:148-159.
    The interpretive-sensory access theory of self-knowledge claims that one knows one’s own mind by turning one’s capacity to know other minds onto oneself. Previously, researchers mostly debated whether the theory receives the most support from the results of empirical research. They have given much less attention to the question whether the theory is the simplest of the available alternatives. I argue that the question of simplicity should be considered in light of the well-established theories surrounding the ISA theory. I claim (...)
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  24. Causal Learning with Occam’s Razor.Oliver Schulte - 2019 - Studia Logica 107 (5):991-1023.
    Occam’s razor directs us to adopt the simplest hypothesis consistent with the evidence. Learning theory provides a precise definition of the inductive simplicity of a hypothesis for a given learning problem. This definition specifies a learning method that implements an inductive version of Occam’s razor. As a case study, we apply Occam’s inductive razor to causal learning. We consider two causal learning problems: learning a causal graph structure that presents global causal connections among a set of domain variables, and learning (...)
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  25. Bayesian Philosophy of Science.Jan Sprenger & Stephan Hartmann - 2019 - Oxford University Press.
    Jan Sprenger and Stephan Hartmann offer a fresh approach to central topics in philosophy of science, including causation, explanation, evidence, and scientific models. Their Bayesian approach uses the concept of degrees of belief to explain and to elucidate manifold aspects of scientific reasoning.
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  26. Do Not Revise Ockham's Razor Without Necessity.Sam Baron & Jonathan Tallant - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (3):596-619.
    Ockham's razor asks that we not multiply entities beyond necessity. The razor is a powerful methodological tool, enabling us to articulate reasons for preferring one theory to another. There are those, however, who would modify the razor. Schaffer, for one, tells us that, ‘I think the proper rendering of Ockham's razor should be ‘Do not multiply fundamental entities without necessity’’. Our aim, here, is to challenge such re-workings of Ockham's razor.
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  27. Bayesian Occam's Razor Is a Razor of the People.Thomas Blanchard, Tania Lombrozo & Shaun Nichols - 2018 - Cognitive Science 42 (4):1345-1359.
    Occam's razor—the idea that all else being equal, we should pick the simpler hypothesis—plays a prominent role in ordinary and scientific inference. But why are simpler hypotheses better? One attractive hypothesis known as Bayesian Occam's razor is that more complex hypotheses tend to be more flexible—they can accommodate a wider range of possible data—and that flexibility is automatically penalized by Bayesian inference. In two experiments, we provide evidence that people's intuitive probabilistic and explanatory judgments follow the prescriptions of BOR. In (...)
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  28. Philosophers Should Prefer Simpler Theories.Darren Bradley - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3049-3067.
    Should philosophers prefer simpler theories? Huemer (Philos Q 59:216–236, 2009) argues that the reasons to prefer simpler theories in science do not apply in philosophy. I will argue that Huemer is mistaken—the arguments he marshals for preferring simpler theories in science can also be applied in philosophy. Like Huemer, I will focus on the philosophy of mind and the nominalism/Platonism debate. But I want to engage with the broader issue of whether simplicity is relevant to philosophy.
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  29. The Frugal Inference of Causal Relations.Malcolm Forster, Garvesh Raskutti, Reuben Stern & Naftali Weinberger - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):821-848.
    Recent approaches to causal modelling rely upon the causal Markov condition, which specifies which probability distributions are compatible with a directed acyclic graph. Further principles are required in order to choose among the large number of DAGs compatible with a given probability distribution. Here we present a principle that we call frugality. This principle tells one to choose the DAG with the fewest causal arrows. We argue that frugality has several desirable properties compared to the other principles that have been (...)
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  30. Theoretical Virtues in Science: Uncovering Reality Through Theory. [REVIEW]Greg Frost-Arnold - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2018.
    This is a book review of Samuel Schindler's _Theoretical Virtues in Science_.
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  31. Systematizing the Theoretical Virtues.Michael Keas - 2018 - Synthese 195 (6):2761-2793.
    There are at least twelve major virtues of good theories: evidential accuracy, causal adequacy, explanatory depth, internal consistency, internal coherence, universal coherence, beauty, simplicity, unification, durability, fruitfulness, and applicability. These virtues are best classified into four classes: evidential, coherential, aesthetic, and diachronic. Each virtue class contains at least three virtues that sequentially follow a repeating pattern of progressive disclosure and expansion. Systematizing the theoretical virtues in this manner clarifies each virtue and suggests how they might have a coordinated and cumulative (...)
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  32. Are All Primitives Created Equal?J. T. M. Miller - 2018 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 56 (2):273-292.
    Primitives are both important and unavoidable, and which set of primitives we endorse will greatly shape our theories and how those theories provide solutions to the problems that we take to be important. After introducing the notion of a primitive posit, I discuss the different kinds of primitives that we might posit. Following Cowling (2013), I distinguish between ontological and ideological primitives, and, following Benovsky (2013) between functional and content views of primitives. I then propose that these two distinctions cut (...)
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  33. Parsimony, Ontological Commitment and the Import of Mathematics.Daniele Molinini - 2018 - In Gabriele Pulcini & Mario Piazza (eds.), Truth, Existence and Explanation. Springer Verlag.
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  34. Multilocation and Parsimony.Justin Mooney - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):153-160.
    One objection to the thesis that multilocation is possible claims that, when combined with a preference for parsimonious theories, it leads to the absurd result that we ought to believe the material universe is composed of just one simple particle. I argue that this objection fails.
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  35. Of Contaminated Catalysts − or How a Pleasant Surprise Can Pervert Parsimony.Andrew Moore - 2018 - Bioessays 40 (5):1800066.
  36. Bradley's Regress: A Matter of Parsimony.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2018 - In Daniele Bertini & Damiano Migliorini (eds.), Relations. Ontology and Philosophy of Religion. Milan: Mimesis International. pp. 109-122.
    I shall investigate in this contribution some solutions to Bradley's well-known regress. Moreover, I shall evaluate such solutions in light of the principle of ontological parsimony: all other things being equal, do not multiply entities (and types of entities) beyond necessity. This will show the advantages of accepting one peculiar solution to the regress, i.e., the one based on modes (particular properties that also ontologically depend on their " bearers "). In section 1, I shall present Bradley's regress. In section (...)
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  37. The Perils of Parsimony.William Roche - 2018 - Journal of Philosophy 115 (9):485-505.
    It is widely thought in philosophy and elsewhere that parsimony is a theoretical virtue in that if T1 is more parsimonious than T2, then T1 is preferable to T2, other things being equal. This thesis admits of many distinct precisifications. I focus on a relatively weak precisification on which preferability is a matter of probability, and argue that it is false. This is problematic for various alternative precisifications, and even for Inference to the Best Explanation as standardly understood.
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  38. Theoretical Virtues in Science: Uncovering Reality Through Theory.Samuel Schindler - 2018 - Cambridge University Press.
    What are the features of a good scientific theory? Samuel Schindler's book revisits this classical question in the philosophy of science and develops new answers to it. Theoretical virtues matter not only for choosing theories 'to work with', but also for what we are justified in believing: only if the theories we possess are good ones can we be confident that our theories' claims about nature are actually correct. Recent debates have focussed rather narrowly on a theory's capacity to predict (...)
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  39. On Quantitative and Qualitative Parsimony.Maciej Sendłak - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (1-2):153-166.
    The distinction between quantitative and qualitative parsimony is supposed to allow David Lewis to dismiss one of the charges against his modal realism: that is, the charge of bloated ontology. The aim of this paper is to undermine Lewis's response to this objection. In order to do this, a distinction between multipliable and nonmultipliable objects is introduced. Based on this it is argued that the acceptance of Lewis's response requires one to believe in modal realism in the first place—that is, (...)
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  40. Phylogenetic Inference, Selection Theory, and History of Science: Selected Papers of A. W. F. Edwards with Commentaries.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2018 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    A. W. F. Edwards is one of the most influential mathematical geneticists in the history of the discipline. One of the last students of R. A. Fisher, Edwards pioneered the statistical analysis of phylogeny in collaboration with L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, and helped establish Fisher's concept of likelihood as a standard of statistical and scientific inference. In this book, edited by philosopher of science Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Edwards's key papers are assembled alongside commentaries by leading scientists, discussing Edwards's influence on their (...)
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  41. Curve-Fitting for Bayesians?Gordon Belot - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3):689-702.
    Bayesians often assume, suppose, or conjecture that for any reasonable explication of the notion of simplicity a prior can be designed that will enforce a preference for hypotheses simpler in just that sense. But it is shown here that there are simplicity-driven approaches to curve-fitting problems that cannot be captured within the orthodox Bayesian framework.
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  42. Simplicity as a Criterion of Theory Choice in Metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
    Metaphysicians frequently appeal to the idea that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, in the sense that, all other things being equal, simpler metaphysical theories are more likely to be true. In this paper I defend the notion that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, against several recent objections. I do not give any direct arguments for the thesis that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, since I am aware of no such arguments. I do argue, however, that (...)
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  43. Cladistic Parsimony, Historical Linguistics and Cultural Phylogenetics.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (1):65-100.
    Here, I consider the recent application of phylogenetic methods in historical linguistics. After a preliminary survey of one such method, i.e. cladistic parsimony, I respond to two common criticisms of cultural phylogenies: that cultural artifacts cannot be modeled as tree-like because of borrowing across lineages, and that the mechanism of cultural change differs radically from that of biological evolution. I argue that while perhaps remains true for certain cultural artifacts, the nature of language may be such as to side-step this (...)
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  44. Can There Be a Bayesian Explanationism? On the Prospects of a Productive Partnership.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4):1245–1272.
    In this paper, I consider the relationship between Inference to the Best Explanation and Bayesianism, both of which are well-known accounts of the nature of scientific inference. In Sect. 2, I give a brief overview of Bayesianism and IBE. In Sect. 3, I argue that IBE in its most prominently defended forms is difficult to reconcile with Bayesianism because not all of the items that feature on popular lists of “explanatory virtues”—by means of which IBE ranks competing explanations—have confirmational import. (...)
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  45. Belief Revision in Science: Informational Economy and Paraconsistency.Daniel Coimbra - 2017 - Contemplação 1 (15):19-38.
    In the present paper, our objective is to examine the application of belief revision models to scientific rationality. We begin by considering the standard model AGM, and along the way a number of problems surface that make it seem inadequate for this specific application. After considering three different heuristics of informational economy that seem fit for science, we consider some possible adaptations for it and argue informally that, overall, some paraconsistent models seem to better satisfy these principles, following Testa (2015). (...)
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  46. Seeing the Elephant: Parsimony, Functionalism, and the Emergent Design of Contempt and Other Sentiments.Matthew M. Gervais & Daniel M. T. Fessler - 2017 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 40.
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  47. Science, God and Ockham’s Razor.David Glass - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1145-1161.
    In discussions about the existence of God, it is sometimes claimed that the progress of science has removed the need for God. This paper uses a Bayesian analysis of Ockham’s razor to formulate and evaluate this argument, which is referred to as the science explains away God argument. Four different strategies for responding to this argument are presented and evaluated. It is argued that one of these strategies highlights how difficult it is to show that the conditions for applying Ockham’s (...)
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  48. Devious Stipulations.John Horden - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 10.
    Recent attempts to answer ontological questions through conceptual analysis have been controversial. Still, it seems reasonable to assume that if the existence of certain things analytically follows from sentences we already accept, then there is no further ontological commitment involved in affirming the existence of those things. More generally, it is plausible that whenever a sentence analytically entails another, the conjunction of those sentences requires nothing more of the world for its truth than the former sentence alone. In his ‘Analyticity (...)
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  49. Poincaré’s Aesthetics of Science.Milena Ivanova - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2581-2594.
    This paper offers a systematic analysis of Poincaré’s understanding of beauty in science. In particular, the paper examines the epistemic significance Poincaré attributes to aesthetic judgement by reconstructing and analysing his arguments on simplicity and unity in science. I offer a consistent reconstruction of Poincaré’s account and show that for Poincaré simplicity and unity are regulative principles, linked to the aim of science—that of achieving understanding of how phenomena relate. I show how Poincaré’s account of beauty in science can be (...)
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  50. Quantitative Parsimony: Probably for the Better.Lina Jansson & Jonathan Tallant - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3):781–803.
    ABSTRACT Our aim in this article is to offer a new justification for preferring theories that are more quantitatively parsimonious than their rivals. We discuss cases where it seems clear that those involved opted for more quantitatively parsimonious theories. We extend previous work on quantitative parsimony by offering an independent probabilistic justification for preferring the more quantitatively parsimonious theories in particular episodes of theory choice. Our strategy allows us to avoid worries that other considerations, such as pragmatic factors of computational (...)
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