Of silence and denial: Sober on Ockham’s razors
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Elliott Sober’s Ockham’s Razors: A User’s Manual (2015) is an innovative and ambitious book that attempts to unify ways of thinking about simplicity across science and philosophy, delving deep into the history of each discipline. The book also aims to establish a modest pluralism, for there are at least two different razors, one of silence and one of denial, that are deployed at different times and in different places. The book is organized into five chapters: one historical, one on probability, and three on contemporary case studies of parsimony as deployed in evolutionary biology, psychology, and contemporary philosophy. As usual, Sober adeptly handles the technical details, presenting probabilistic frameworks in an accessible and informative way. In fact, Chapter 2 could stand alone as an effective introduction to probabilistic theories of confirmation found in philosophy of science. The historical chapter and the case studies present a wealth of fascinating detail on the nature...
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