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when two competing hypotheses explain the data equally well, choose the simpler. Or, as Sir William Hamilton puts it, "Neither more, nor more onerous, causes are to be assumed, than are necessary to account for the phenomena." Named for English philosopher William of Ockham or Occam (c.1285-c.1349), who expressed it with Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter ncccssitatem.
So called after William of Occam (died about 1349): but, as a historical fact, Occam does not make much use of this principle, which belongs rather to the contemporary nominalist William Durand de St. Pourçain (died 1332). [Century Dictionary]
|Occam's razor or Ockham's razor |
A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. Occam's razor is named after the deviser of the rule, English philosopher and theologian William of Ockham (1285?-1349?).