Saturday, February 7, 2015


I sing of the great Ockham’s razor,
That sharp philosophical laser.
A theory that’s bloated
Will fast be demoted,
And blasted with Captain Bill's phaser.

Note: William of Ockham will always be remembered for this famous principle of ontological parsimony: “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate” (plurality should not be posited unnecessarily), sometimes rendered as “Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem” (entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity).  The principle, in either of its formulations, suggests that you should not posit the existence of things that are not needed to explain other things.  Of course, the positing of these principles violates the principles themselves: it turns out that Ockham said no such thing.  What he said instead was: “Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate” (plurality should never be posited unnecessarily).  Get your quotes right, people!

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