Modified Occam's Razor

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):371-382 (2012)

Ben Phillips
Arizona State University
According to the principle Grice calls 'Modified Occam's Razor' (MOR), 'Senses are not to be multiplied beyond necessity'. More carefully, MOR says that if there are distinct ways in which an expression is regularly used, then, all other things being equal, we should favour the view that the expression is unambiguous and that certain uses of it can be explained in pragmatic terms. In this paper I argue that MOR cannot have the central role that is typically assigned to it by those who deploy it. More specifically, I argue that potential justifications of the epistemic import of parsimony in semantic theorizing are problematic, and that even if MOR could be justified, it has a redundant role to play in adjudicating the debate between the ambiguity-theorist and the proponent of the pragmatic approach
Keywords ambiguity  Grice  implicature  meaning  Modified Occam's razor
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2011.578143
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Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.

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