Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 11, pp 2687–2707 | Cite as

Simplicity as a criterion of theory choice in metaphysics

  • Andrew BrennerEmail author


Metaphysicians frequently appeal to the idea that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, in the sense that, all other things being equal, simpler metaphysical theories are more likely to be true. In this paper I defend the notion that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, against several recent objections. I do not give any direct arguments for the thesis that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, since I am aware of no such arguments. I do argue, however, that there is no special problem with the notion that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics. More specifically, I argue that if you accept the idea that simplicity is truth conducive in science, then it would be objectionably arbitrary to reject the idea that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics.


Metaphysics Metametaphysics Methodology Simplicity Theoretical simplicity 



Thanks to Anjan Chakravartty, Nevin Climenhaga, Peter Finocchiaro, Michael Rea, Meghan Sullivan, Peter van Inwagen, and an anonymous referee for very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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