Occam’s Razor

What is Occam’s Razor
The literal principle of Occam’s Razor is «Do not multiply things unnecessarily.

It is worth noting that what is now called Occam’s Razor was not created by Occam. It was already known to the ancient Greeks.

The principle of Occam’s Razor is as follows. Suppose a certain phenomenon can be explained in two ways:

Through the involvement of entities (terms, factors, facts) A, B and C;
through entities A, B, C and D.
So if both methods yield the same result, then the first explanation should be preferred. Entity D is redundant in this example, and its involvement is redundant.

It is important to understand that Occam’s Razor is not an axiom, but a presumption, that is, it does not prohibit more complex explanations, but only recommends the order of consideration of hypotheses, which in most cases is the best.

Interesting facts about Occam’s Razor
Philotheus Bener, an expert in medieval philosophy, claimed in one of his writings that more often than not William Occam explained his principle as follows: «One should not assert much without necessity.»

That is, he meant to say that one should not resort to plurality unless it was necessary. It is much easier and more rational to explain a certain phenomenon with the least amount of foundation.

In this connection, for some, Occam’s Razor is expressed as follows: «What can be explained with less is not worth explaining with more.»

An interesting fact is that William Occam formulated his principle in order to prove the existence of God. Today there are many interpretations of Occam’s Razor.

Occam’s Razor principle today
Today, Occam’s Razor is understood as a principle based on the fact that if there are many different explanations that do not contradict each other, the simplest and shortest one should be chosen.

Moreover, there is no point in inventing new interpretations or ways of explaining any phenomena if they are already well interpreted by means of old laws.

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However, Occam’s Razor principle is relevant in explanations only when it is possible to give a comprehensive answer in simple words. That is, there is no apparent reason to use a more complicated explanation.

It is no less interesting to look at Occam’s Razor from the side of logic. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the essence of this principle was familiar to the ancient Greeks. Aristotle, who lived in the 4th century B.C., used the principle of sufficient reason.

In its present form, Occam’s Razor was described by the German mathematician Leibniz.

Leibniz described Occam’s Razor as follows: «It is appropriate to speak of the existence of objects, phenomena, or regularities only when there are good reasons for doing so, that is, arguments or chains of logic supporting a particular judgment.

It follows that if one fails to explain a phenomenon or object using simple fundamentals, then Occam’s Razor principle will have little effect.

Why Razor?
In philosophy, the term «razor» refers to a tool to help discard (shave off) unlikely and implausible explanations. And since the tool for shaving is the razor, the same name has been carried over to the truth-finding tool.

To better understand how Occam’s Razor is used in life, we should turn to concrete examples.

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