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

Synthese 199 (1-2):4819-4828 (2021)
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Abstract

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.

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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.

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