Can someone explain why the acceptance of Occam's razor

It seems like it’s only useful as for a ‘quick and dirty’ answer. It ignores other possible outcomes to state a emphatic conclusion ignoring any also ignoring other reasonable statistically possible outcomes.

Why is this even accepted besides as determination as the most likely cause? Has its use gone too far?

Occam’s razor to me should be used as a limitation to a debating point, such as’ OK you stated your case but you used Occam’s razor so there is much room to challenge’. Instead I tend to get that they used Occam’s razor and that is the proof in itself.

What is it about ignoring any other known possible outcomes that makes Occam’s razor a trump card?

I believe that Occam’s Razor is merely a starting point. If there are many possible answers, begin your investigation with the simplest. That does not mean the simplest answer is the right one.

as a suggestion it is good.

From the wikipediadefinition of the phrase:

It’s not the end-all-be-all decider of a debate. Rather it is, as **panache **put it so well, a starting point.

Because there ARE infinite possibilities doesn’t mean that they apply to each situation. Most events have several distinct causes which are easily discerned when they are examined closely . And most examinations uncover simple explanations. That’s when Occam’s Razor is the most useful.

On the rare occasions when a cursory examination can’t reveal the potential cause(s) of an event, then Occam’s is a good starting point for further inquiry,

This. It’s more of a statement of parsimony; i.e. if you have 5 possible explanations, the simplest one is the one you should try to verify first, or if you can’t verify, you should assume is true.

It’s basically saying that all else being equal, the simpler explanation is probably the most likely.

If the cops find a drug dealer dead from a gunshot wound in an alley, are they going to assume some other drug dealer shot him in a drug deal gone bad, or are they going to think that he was really a Russian FSB agent shot by the CIA and made to look like a drug dealer? In this case, the simplest explanation makes the most sense.

It is really just a suggested standard.

If you are adding in complications in order to explain something when a simpler answer explains it just as well…don’t…start with the simpler answer and test it out thoroughly. If that breaks down then feel free to start adding in complications where they are needed.

A great example of this is epicycles and the Copernican model of the universe.

A razor is a reasoning technique, Occam’s Razor is the most famous, but there’s other well known ones as well( If someone is using Occam’s Razor as proof, then they’re misusing it.

I’d say it’s more than just simplicity, it’s a question of whether additional complication adds enough to make it worth while. A good example of this would be like doing basic mechanics on a car moving. I can use Relativistic Physics, but the added complication isn’t worth it, but if I’m launching a space probe, it probably is.

I would argue that it’s a fallacy to assume the the simpler solution is always preferable, that’s akin to arguing that the most popular or most expensive is thing is better. It may be a good guideline, and it’s a good place to start with reasoning, but I’d never just say “it’s simpler, therefore it is correct.”

So far the mods can close it as it seems to be invalid as a conclusive answer.

I tend to look at it as a matter of practicality. If you start from the simplest model and “work your way out” to greater levels of complexity then you are systematically eliminating those simple models, and are working with models you are more likely to be able to grasp and prove/disprove in the first place. But if you start with arbitrarily complex models, then not only may it be beyond your ability to prove or disprove but doing so doesn’t eliminate those simpler models you jumped over.

And most important of all? Historically, it’s been quite effective. “It works” is justification enough.

More like there are others that some guy on the internet made up. This is Wikipedia at its misleading worst. Note that only one of those other “razors” has any sort of cite to back it up, and that is to TV Tropes! :rolleyes: (Popper’s falsification principle is a real philosophical doctrine, but it is far from being universally accepted by other philosophers of science, and nobody calls it a “razor”.)

Put another way, Ockham’s razor says that if we posit a universe where “A” *doesn’t * exist, and we can’t find any way to distinguish between this universe and that one, then for all intents and purposes this *is *a universe where “A” does not exist.

What makes it a “trump” card in many debates is that it’s shorthand for this. Simply, it forces the opponent to concede that they “A” is unnecessary to explain reality.

That doesn’t mean that “A” doesn’t exist. God, leprechauns, the Greys. These are all things that *could *exist and *could *explain all sorts of shit. You can’t argue against what “could” be, and because you can’t argue against it it is a futile tool for determining the truth.

What Ockham’s Razor does is eliminate the “could” and focus on the evidence. If an explanation invokes something that *could *be, but that isn’t *required *for the universe to appear as it is, then that explanation is futile. It explains nothing novel, while at the same time requiring belief in something that is, by definition, without evidence.

Of course lots of things that we now accept to be true once required belief an were without evidence. But that doesn’t make it rational to believe in such things before we have evidence.

That’s why Ockham’s razor is accepted. It’s a shorthand statement of a logical axiom even if not an application of logic in it’s own right.

People are free to reject the axiom, but in doing so they are forced to state outright that their beliefs are not based on evidence. That is pretty much a trump card on many debates.

And there is no better example of this than god as the “uncaused-cause”.

The universe could have come into being, from nothing, in a very simple form. Why then introduce a more complicated being that precedes it?

If your complicated god of choice needs no cause then neither does a far more simple proto-universe.

Yeah, it’s just a rough and dirty.

It is often abused to attack an idea wrongly.

It shouldn’t be given to much weight, it does not say which is true, and if you keep comparing evidence and use logic you will have a far more solid answer than occams generalization, a mere probability.

Only if one theory is exceedingly complex by comparison does it possibly have enough weight to be significantly useful, but never really definitive if each possibility is all actually logical.

To me, Occam’s Razor says that, when you debate, do this:
Not this:
It is never proof per se, but can be a nice heuristic (I like Wittgenstein’s formulation that everything that “is not necessary is meaningless” ) and a sometime-clarifier of burden-of-proof - additional entities requiring proof of their necessity.

Another formulation of the razor may be more appealing: Prefer the hypothesis which requires less “special pleading.”
Something that walks like a duck and quacks like a duck might be a squirrel on its way to a masquerade ball, but that’s not the percentage bet.

I’m surprised no-one said this but Occam’s Razor is not “The simplest explanation is often the right one”, as it’s often paraphrased.

That reasoning has the flaws that:

  1. As the OP has picked up on, so what? Maybe this time we’re unlucky and we’ve chanced upon a complex situation.
  2. How do we know we’ve found the simplest explanation (this flaw is also shared by “Once you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains must be true” – how do we know we have the complete set of explanations)?
  3. While most things have a simple explanation, it’s also true that most things in our daily life don’t require further scrutiny. By the simple fact we’re discussing phenomenon X, we already have some reason to suppose X might belong to the set of things with a complex explanation.

I prefer the paraphrasing “Do not multiply entities unnecessarily”. IOW, remove any part of your model which is spurious.

The simplest explanation is that you didn’t read the other posts.

Occam’s Razor is a handy tool for specific situations, such as solving a crime or discovering a new scientific equation. Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, for example, are so much more simple and elegant than the complex models from antiquity, one wonders why nobody thought of them beforehand.

However, Occam’s Razor is merely a guide, and never 100% correct. For instance, here’s the logic regarding Terrestrial Abiogenesis:

  1. Simple Answer = God created everything.
  2. Correct Answer = First, the earth cooled. Then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, and then…

Except that it’s really obvious that option 1 isn’t really simple - this is more like an example of Garbage In, Garbage Out; you can apply perfect logic to incorrect premises and get the wrong answer.