Theoretical virtues and theorizing in physics: against the instrumentalist view of simplicity

Synthese 199 (1-2):4819-4828 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


I argue that if simplicity is a theoretical virtue and some theoretical virtues are the constituents of the aims of theorizing in physics—i.e., theory choice and theory development in physics—and scientific rationality is instrumental rationality, then simplicity cannot be a mere means to achieve the aims. I do this by showing that considering simplicity as a mere means brings about counterintuitive ramifications concerning scientific rationality. These counterintuitive ramifications can be avoided if we consider simplicity a constituent of the aims of theorizing in physics.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,991

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Dangers of Pragmatic Virtue.Daniel Nolan - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):623-644.
Epistemic Simplicity—A Virtue or a Vice?Piotr Lichacz - 2021 - Metaphilosophy 52 (2):200-219.
Empiricism and Scientific Methodology.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1980 - In C. Van Fraassen Bas (ed.), The scientific image. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pettit on consequentialism and universalizability.Andrew Gleeson - 2005 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 26 (3):261-275.
Simplicity as a criterion of theory choice in metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
Hume on Theoretical Simplicity.Hsueh Qu - 2023 - Philosophers' Imprint 23 (1).
Theoretical Virtues in Scientific Practice: An Empirical Study.Moti Mizrahi - 2022 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (4):879-902.


Added to PP

48 (#340,493)

6 months
19 (#145,313)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Mousa Mohammadian
American University of Beirut

References found in this work

The web of belief.W. V. Quine & J. S. Ullian - 1970 - New York,: Random House. Edited by J. S. Ullian.
Ockham’s Razors: A User’s Manual.Elliott Sober - 2015 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The Rationality of Science.W. Newton-Smith - 1981 - Boston: Routledge.

View all 28 references / Add more references