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Author Topic:   Occam's Razor - Questions
outblaze
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 13 (26034)
12-09-2002 12:24 PM


Is it a logical fallacy and should it be used as criteria for the viability of theories?
Is it done to obscure the metaphysical necessity of the observer? (i.e., logical positivism, upon which much of modern science is built, ignores that the observer is a metaphysical entity).
By using occam's razor are you pretending that there is a process instead of a concious choice being made?

Replies to this message:
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Chavalon
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 13 (26067)
12-09-2002 3:48 PM


Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem (Entities ought not to be multiplied without necessity).
Occam's razor is not a fallacy, rather an axiom - or a rule of thumb - or pragmatic common sense.
Given 2 or more theories *with the same power of explanation*, Occam's razor is simply the observation that it is more sensible to use the simpler one. Thus complexity in a theory should be avoided unless it improves the theory's power of explanation.
The only scientific criterion for choosing between theories is how well they stand up to experimental investigation, but Occam's razor is a useful way of deciding which ones to put to the test.
Occam was a 14th century theologian and logician who sought to show that faith and reason have no necessary connection.
The following from Occam's Razor Another Look
An example of this which is relevant to atheism is the following two hypotheses:
There is a universe.
There is a universe and a God which created the universe.
The first hypothesis is obviously simpler than the second. Thus, without sufficient reason, the first is preferable to the second. That doesn't mean that the second hypothesis is wrong - it does, however, mean that we should not simply assume the second. Interestingly enough, this theologian recognized that his logical tool essentially eliminated the hypothetical of the existence of God in pretty much all arguments and explanations. You might think that this would be a problem for Ockham, but that judgment would be a bit hasty.
It's not that he didn't believe in God - on the contrary, he was very devout. He did not, however, think that the existence of God could be logically *proven* with arguments. Doing so would require introducing all the extra complexities which are unnecessary and which he deliberately sought to eliminate. Most other theologians of the time - and today, too - might have sought scientific arguments to prove that God exists, but Ockham said that that simply wasn't possible. In his mind, science and theology are two totally different systems dealing with totally different realms.

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TrueCreation
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 13 (26068)
12-09-2002 4:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by outblaze
12-09-2002 12:24 PM


Occam's razor, the principle first enunciated by the English Philospher, William of Occam is taken to imply that 'if alternative theories are available that explain the observations equally well then the simpler is to be preferred.'
--Occams razor is a very useful scientific tool, however its limitations should be noted. Seeing as it implies a preferrence toward the simpler explanation, it shouldn't be taken as a tool which determines the correctness of a theory. There is no such thing as a 'correct' theory, only more plausible ones.
------------------

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outblaze
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 13 (26214)
12-10-2002 1:06 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Chavalon
12-09-2002 3:48 PM


quote:
Originally posted by Chavalon:
Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem (Entities ought not to be multiplied without necessity).
Occam's razor is not a fallacy, rather an axiom - or a rule of thumb - or pragmatic common sense.

I'm a little confused by this since the site below list it as a logical fallacy?
http://www.aros.net/~wenglund/Logic101a.htm
Can it be argued the razor is a fallacy because it suggests that "truth" can be posited at one point and become non-truth at a later point?
I'm even more confused as to how this poster ties the Razor into science's supossed bankrupt epistimology?
quote:
LOOK AT THE underlying ASSUMPTIONS...
EVERY, EVERY EVERY WAY OF KNOWING SOMETHING ABOUT THE UNIVERSE IS BASED ON "SELF EVIDENT TRUTHS".
(in the system of addition, peano's postulates...or in geometry there are ten axioms that are taken as "self evident", when they really are not)
There must be a basis for an epistimology,or how you know what you know.
The problem with many naturalistic scientists (specific type of scientist..could call materialistic..or something else..usually subscribe to logical positivism; i will call this naturalistic for lack of better word) is that they would rather go along blithely discussing "evidence" when their epistimology is totally bankrupt...they cannot show how they can be sure they know what they know..
This becomes especially evident in the area of "observer", "observation" "interpretation"and "Data"..the
"naturalistic scientist" of today, usually cannot distinguish between them...since he has discarded the metaphysical (usually the case, not always) and assumes PURELY "naturalisim", his "DATA" often appears in a vacuum...he cannot know or justify how he knows this particular set of things is data..
Most "naturalistic scientists" brush this off because they would rather get wrapped up in evidence arguments to keep the spotlight away from the rotten foundations...
However, it becomes apparent that using a pure materialistic foundation is untenable....you cannot have mind/observer.
Which is more likely to occur of the following..
1)Something came from something else
2)Something came from nothing.
Tks.

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Percy
Member
Posts: 22700
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 5 of 13 (26223)
12-10-2002 3:14 PM


Thought people might enjoy this:
I see it's slightly corrupted, though still readable - I'll see if I have the original at home later on.
--Percy

  
John
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 13 (26228)
12-10-2002 4:02 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by outblaze
12-10-2002 1:06 PM


quote:
Originally posted by outblaze:
I'm a little confused by this since the site below list it as a logical fallacy?
It took some thought to figure out what the guy meant, but I think I got it. He seems to focus on the common mis-use of Ockham's Razor as 'the simplest answer is the best answer' instead of the more accurate 'the simplest answer, which incorporates all of the available data, is the best answer'. The former is fallacious because without that appela to the incorporation of all the data, we'd have to accept say the Greek simple atom over the far more complicated atom of modern physics.
Technically, even the second formulation could be considered fallacious. It is possible that the Earth is at the center of the solar system and the correct model is an insanely complicated system of countless epicycles. And mysterious gravitational pertubations make it possible to fly a space-craft as if the sun were the centre of gravity. And solar radiation follows convoluted pathways that give the illusion of heliocentrism. And so on and so on ... It is possible, but reasonable? This brings us to our next subject.
The partial refutation of what I just said. If we negate Ockham's razor, we can quickly work ourself into a position of having to acknowledge countless contradictory solutions as true. Because, quite simply, anything goes. It may take 500 pages and 5000 mythical beast to describe something that can be described in one sentence with two assumptions, but without Ockham's razor both explainations must be true, no matter how contradictory they are. So in a sense, this is a reductio ad absurdam proof of Ockham's razor.
As Ockham's razor is used, it isn't even really logic at all though. If you have a solution with twelve premises, and then discover that you only need 9, you throw the others out. It isn't a disproof of the other three, just a recognition that they are unneccesary.
quote:
I'm even more confused as to how this poster ties the Razor into science's supossed bankrupt epistimology?
Notice that the first statement the poster makes is that every
'way of knowing' is based on assumption. Essentially this is correct. But everyone is in the same boat. The religious, as I suspect the poster is, don't have a way out that is close to the naturalists. Both systems are based on assumption. In essense, if the poster wants to claim that science has a bankrupt epistemology, then he must also claim that EVERY epistemology is bankrupt. I don't expect that is the intended tack.
What it boils down to is a careful consideration of the assumptions. This is outside science and logic and mathematics.
------------------
No webpage found at provided URL: www.hells-handmaiden.com

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Syamsu 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5707 days)
Posts: 1914
From: amsterdam
Joined: 05-19-2002


Message 7 of 13 (66166)
11-13-2003 1:28 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by outblaze
12-09-2002 12:24 PM


AFAIK Occam's razor was first proposed as a way to get rid of Plato's universals in descriptions of things. A universal as far as I understand it, is when you say that all white things that exist, are from an ideal whiteness universal which exists somewhere in idealland. Occam then argued that these universals only existed as fundamental terms in the minds of people. IMO the way Occam's razor works is more to sort out knowledge, then to deny or accept the existence of something.
Q: How did the chicken cross the road?
A: It walked across, while other chickens just remained on the side they were, as the sun shone down on the black tarmac.
The sun did shine yes, and there were other chickens that just sat there, those are true facts, yet this information answers other questions then the question how the chicken crossed the road, and therefore would be cut by application of Occam's razor in the context of the question asked.
regards,
Mohammad Nor Syamsu

This message is a reply to:
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MrHambre
Member (Idle past 1510 days)
Posts: 1495
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 8 of 13 (66200)
11-13-2003 6:20 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Syamsu
11-13-2003 1:28 AM


At another thread, Rrhain gave a good explanation of the application of Occam's razor. It doesn't 'sort out knowledge'. What it does is propose a priority in assessing hypotheses.
The simplest explanation for a phenomenon (i.e. the one involving the fewest variables or mechanisms) is always considered first, because it can be tested more easily. If the simplest explanation is adequate, you don't have to deal with more elaborate ones. If it is not adequate, then you may have a better idea of how many additional factors need to be introduced into the hypothesis to make it viable.
------------------
America is like watching a symphony conducted by the tuba player. -Dow Mossman, The Stones of Summer

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Syamsu, posted 11-13-2003 1:28 AM Syamsu has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Syamsu, posted 11-13-2003 8:44 AM MrHambre has replied

  
Syamsu 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5707 days)
Posts: 1914
From: amsterdam
Joined: 05-19-2002


Message 9 of 13 (66218)
11-13-2003 8:44 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by MrHambre
11-13-2003 6:20 AM


Provide an argument why don't you. The atheist nonsense you refer to doesn't seem to be what Occam's razor is about. It hasn't been of any value to science to cut out God from descriptions, because God traditionally takes the place of decisionmaker, which is beyond the scope of scientific certitude anyway, both decisions of God, and decisions of people. What has been of significant value however, is as before, the effect of Occam's razor to efficiently organize knowledge, to separate knowledge that is not neccessarily required to answer a question, from knowledge that is required.
It seems to me that your application of Occam's razor is very vague and notional, while I think my application of the razor by looking for the minimal requirements for a theory to apply, and shaving of the rest, is very clear and useful in science.
In any case both you and Rhain fail to address that an answer (shaved or not), exists in relation to a question, and that's why your explanations of Occam's razor are essentially empty of reason IMO.
regards,
Mohammad Nor Syamsu

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by MrHambre, posted 11-13-2003 6:20 AM MrHambre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by MrHambre, posted 11-13-2003 8:59 AM Syamsu has replied

  
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 1510 days)
Posts: 1495
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 10 of 13 (66219)
11-13-2003 8:59 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Syamsu
11-13-2003 8:44 AM


Here we go again
Syamsu,
I think by any standards I was civil in trying to point out what Occam's razor actually means, since it was clear you weren't sure. Your rude reply makes it abundantly evident that Occam's razor (like heritability and natural selection before it) is a subject you don't understand in the least but are determined to define in any way you see fit, as well as 'reformulate' to your bizarre ends.
Since any response that I provide will be lost on you, I leave it to others to engage your imagination in yet another futile cat-and-mouse game.
------------------
America is like watching a symphony conducted by the tuba player. -Dow Mossman, The Stones of Summer

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Syamsu, posted 11-13-2003 8:44 AM Syamsu has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Mammuthus, posted 11-13-2003 9:11 AM MrHambre has replied
 Message 13 by Syamsu, posted 11-13-2003 10:15 AM MrHambre has not replied

  
Mammuthus
Member (Idle past 6592 days)
Posts: 3085
From: Munich, Germany
Joined: 08-09-2002


Message 11 of 13 (66220)
11-13-2003 9:11 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by MrHambre
11-13-2003 8:59 AM


Re: Here we go again
Syamsu has apparently confused Occam's Razor with the Gillette Mach V. While the former can help distinguish the most parsimonious hypothesis from complicated messes (such as Syamsu's post), the latter gives a much closer shave and thus is clearly superior for the distinguished gentleman with little time and lots of laundry.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by MrHambre, posted 11-13-2003 8:59 AM MrHambre has replied

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MrHambre
Member (Idle past 1510 days)
Posts: 1495
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 12 of 13 (66222)
11-13-2003 9:16 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Mammuthus
11-13-2003 9:11 AM


Thanks For Clarifying
Mammuthus,
That makes more sense. It also explains why, every time I avoid a protracted discussion with the Pride of Nganjuk, I call it a close shave.

This message is a reply to:
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Syamsu 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5707 days)
Posts: 1914
From: amsterdam
Joined: 05-19-2002


Message 13 of 13 (66238)
11-13-2003 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by MrHambre
11-13-2003 8:59 AM


Re: Here we go again
It's no loss that you don't respond, since you don't provide argumentation. I think you be must referring to "atheist nonsense" as rude. I think it's a bit peculiar to say the least that an invention of someone who believed in God should be explained in terms of a tool to cut out references to God. That is mere atheist prejudice, the usefulness of Occam's razor in science lies elsewhere, as explained before.
I consider it arrogant that you dismiss my answer without argumentation, so by my standards you were not civil.
(edited to add: probably Mr Hambre is now busy looking up universals as they relate to Occam's razor, a subject he knows nothing about despite posing as the trustworthy authority on Occam's razor)
regards,
Mohammad Nor Syamsu
[This message has been edited by Syamsu, 11-13-2003]

This message is a reply to:
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