Don’t throw out Occam’s razor just yet

Occam's razor

Jim Al-Khalili has an article at OpenMind attacking Occam's razor, at least in the form it's typically articulated, that the simplest explanation should be preferred. Al-Khalili correctly points out that there are a lot of problems with that version of the principle. Simply preferring the explanation we think is the simplest is often just favoring … Continue reading Don’t throw out Occam’s razor just yet

Information, computation, and reality

David Chalmers in his book: : Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, has a discussion on information and reality. He identifies different types of information: semantic, structural, and symbolic. Semantic information is what we colloquially think of as information, it's the patterns that tell someone or something about reality. A map of a city … Continue reading Information, computation, and reality

The benefits of wave function realism?

Hydrogen wave function plots

The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that quantum particles move like waves but hit and leave effects like localized particles. This is true of elementary particles, atoms, molecules, and increasingly larger objects, possibly macroscopic ones. It's even true of collections of entangled particles, no matter how separated the particles may have become. People have … Continue reading The benefits of wave function realism?

The relativity of scientism

Symbol for an atom

Philosopher Jonny Thompson has an article up on RealClearScience profiling the views of Mary Midgley: The Three Myths of Scientism. (Warning: the RealClearScience site is pretty ad intensive.) Midgley was a famous critic of views she regarded as scientism, and often sparred with atheist and antitheist Richard Dawkins. As someone who usually takes the scientific … Continue reading The relativity of scientism

Structural realism, a way to be a scientific realist?

In the scientific realism vs instrumentalism debate, realism is the position that the elements of a scientific theory represent reality. So when general relativity talks about space warping, space really is warping. Instrumentalism, or anti-realism, is the stance that scientific theories are just prediction mechanisms, with no guarantee that they represent reality. Under instrumentalism, general … Continue reading Structural realism, a way to be a scientific realist?