Simple or simplistic? Scientists' views on Occam's razor



Published 01-05-2010
Hauke Riesch


This paper presents a discourse analysis of 30 popular science books and 40 semi-structured interviews with scientists on their views of Occam's razor and simplicity. It finds that there are many different interpretations and thoughts about the precise meaning of the principle as well as many scientists who reject it outright, or only a very limited version. In light of the variation of scientists' opinions, the paper asks what use it has as a rhetorical device and how scientists' interpretation of Occam's razor impacts on the study of popular science and affects the communication between philosophy and science.

How to Cite

Riesch, H. (2010). Simple or simplistic? Scientists’ views on Occam’s razor. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 25(1), 75–90.
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Popular Science, Occam's Razor, Sociology of Philosophy of Science