Simplicity as a criterion of theory choice in metaphysics

Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707 (2017)
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Abstract

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 there is no special problem with the notion that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics. More specifically, I argue that if you accept the idea that simplicity is truth conducive in science, then it would be objectionably arbitrary to reject the idea that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics.

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Andrew Brenner
Hong Kong Baptist University

Citations of this work

Philosophers should prefer simpler theories.Darren Bradley - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3049-3067.
Mereology and ideology.Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7431-7448.
The Explosion of Being: Ideological Kinds in Theory Choice.Peter Finocchiaro - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (276):486-510.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Modal Logic as Metaphysics.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The metaphysics within physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Ontology Made Easy.Amie Lynn Thomasson - 2014 - New York: Oup Usa.

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