WHEN IS PARSIMONY A VIRTUE?
Article first published online: 16 APR 2008
© 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 The Editors of The Philosophical Quarterly
The Philosophical Quarterly
Volume 59, Issue 235, pages 216–236, April 2009
How to Cite
Huemer, M. (2009), WHEN IS PARSIMONY A VIRTUE?. The Philosophical Quarterly, 59: 216–236. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9213.2008.569.x
- Issue published online: 23 FEB 2009
- Article first published online: 16 APR 2008
Parsimony is a virtue of empirical theories. Is it also a virtue of philosophical theories? I review four contemporary accounts of the virtue of parsimony in empirical theorizing, and consider how each might apply to two prominent appeals to parsimony in the philosophical literature, those made on behalf of physicalism and on behalf of nominalism. None of the accounts of the virtue of parsimony extends naturally to either of these philosophical cases. This suggests that in typical philosophical contexts, ontological simplicity has no evidential value.