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Monday, May 12, 2014


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>>He seems to think that simply brandishing the Razor suffices to refute a theory.

Why do you think this? In the post I think you are referring to I said "If an inferential semantics is sufficient, then the Razor tells us it is necessary".

I think you took the assertion of the conditional 'if A then B' as an assertion of the antecedent A. It's a very common mistake :)

On the history, the Razor predates Ockham, and was a common methodological principle adopted by scholastic philosophers, including Scotus (who was hardly a nominalist).

On the connection with nominalism, Ockham says that we must not multiply entities (i.e. types of entity) in accordance with the multiplicity of terms. I.e. we shouldn't infer that because a certain term looks like a name for a sort of entity, that there really is such a type of entity. His methodology is to eliminate propositions containing such terms and replace them with others which (according to him) mean the same, but which don't tempt us into supposing the existence of real entities. "Nor do we have to multiply things in such locutions as "a column is to the right by to-the-rightness", "God is creating by creation, is good by goodness, is just by justice, is powerful by power", "an accident inheres by inherence", "a subject is subjected by subjection", "a suitable thing is suitable by suitability", "a chimera is nothing by nothingness", "a blind thing is blind by blindness", " a body is mobile by mobility" and such other innumerable things."

Obviously this is a specific application of the Razor. Show that we can fully explain the meaning of a proposition by positing fewer entities than other explanations. Thus the explanation which posits fewer entities (or types of entities) is to be preferred.

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