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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 115, Issue 9, September 2018

William Roche
Pages 485-505

The Perils of Parsimony

It is widely thought in philosophy and elsewhere that parsimony is a theoretical virtue in that if a theory T1 is more parsimonious than another theory 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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