Volume 25, Issue 1, January 2010
Simple or Simplistic? Scientists' Views on Occam's Razor
ABSTRACT: This paper presents a discourse analysis of 40 semi-structured interviews with scientists on their views of Occam's razor and simplicity. It finds that there are many different interpretations and thoughts about the precise meaning of the principle as well as many scientists who reject it outright, or only a very limited version. In light of the variation of scientists' opinions, the paper looks at the discursive uses of simplicity in scientists' thinking and how scientists' interpretations of Occam's razor impact on philosophy's representation of the principle and affects the communication between philosophy and science.