Single Idea 6805

[catalogued under 14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 1. Scientific Theory]

Full Idea

The theories of relativity ousted Newtonian mechanics despite a loss of simplicity.

Gist of Idea

Relativity ousted Newtonian mechanics despite a loss of simplicity


Alexander Bird (Philosophy of Science [1998])

Book Reference

Bird,Alexander: 'Philosophy of Science' [UCL Press 2000], p.264

A Reaction

This nicely demonstrates that simplicity is not essential, even if it is desirable. The point applies to the use of Ockham's Razor (Idea 6806), and to Hume's objection to miracles (Idea 2227), where strange unnatural events may be the truth.

Related Ideas

Idea 6806 Do not multiply entities beyond necessity [William of Ockham]

Idea 2227 A miracle violates laws which have been established by continuous unchanging experience, so should be ignored [Hume]

Idea 15283 Simplicity can sort theories out, but still leaves an infinity of possibilities [Harré/Madden]

Idea 21688 There are four suspicious reasons why we prefer simpler theories [Quine]