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Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind$
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Gilbert Harman

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198238027

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198238029.001.0001

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Simplicity as a Pragmatic Criterion for Deciding What Hypotheses to Take Seriously

Simplicity as a Pragmatic Criterion for Deciding What Hypotheses to Take Seriously

Chapter:
(p.75) 3 Simplicity as a Pragmatic Criterion for Deciding What Hypotheses to Take Seriously
Source:
Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind
Author(s):

Gilbert Harman (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198238029.003.0004

Simplicity is used in curve‐fitting and can be illustrated by Goodman's ‘new riddle of induction.’ Taking the simplicity of a hypothesis to depend entirely on the simplicity of the way it is represented does not work, because simplicity of representation is too dependent on the method of representation, and any hypothesis can be represented simply. An alternative ‘semantic’ theory also has problems. A ‘computational’ theory is defended that considers how easy it is to use a hypothesis to get answers to questions in which one is interested.

Keywords:   curve‐fitting, Nelson Goodman, grue, induction, new riddle of induction, pragmatism, simplicity

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