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JoshuaZ comments on Occam's Razor - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 September 2007 06:36AM

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Comment author: JoshuaZ 22 April 2011 03:40:54AM 3 points [-]

Occam's Razor is "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem)

NOT "The simplest explanation that fits the facts."

The form you list it in is the historical form of Occam's Razor, but it isn't the form that the Razor has been applied in for a fairly long time. Among other problems, defining what one means by distinct entities is problematic. And we really do want to prefer simpler explanations to more complicated ones. Indeed, the most general form of the razor doesn't even need to have an explanatory element (I in general prefer a low degree polynomial to interpolate some data to a high degree polynomial even if I have no explanation attached to why I should expect the actual phenomenon to fit a linear or quadratic polynomial.)

Comment author: adamisom 22 December 2011 10:35:01PM 0 points [-]

I may be missing something here -- Occam's Razor is "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem)

NOT "The simplest explanation that fits the facts."

-- but isn't the post using the first definition anyway? So even if he explicitly wrote the second definition instead of the first, he was clearly aware of the first since that's what corresponds with his argument.