Occam's Razor

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Wikipedia.

Occam's Razor

The English philosopher, William of Occam (1300-1349) propounded Occam's Razor:

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

(Latin for "Entities should not be multiplied more than necessary"). That is, the fewer assumptions an explanation of a phenomenon depends on, the better it is.

For example, some claim that God caused himself to exist and also caused the universe to exist - he was the "first cause" - whereas Occam's Razor suggests that if one accepts the possibility of something causing itself then it is better to assume that it was the universe that caused itself rather than God because this explanation involves fewer entities.

The negation of Occam's Razor would suggest that an arbitrarily complex explanation is just as good as the simplest one. (E.g. God and his cat created a robot called Sparky who built the universe from parts bought from a shop in another dimension).

See also KISS Principle.
References in periodicals archive ?
If anti-HSV-2 agents are not Occam's razor, (1) then the only thing that could become Occam's razor is a vaccine.
Although Occam's Razor encourages one to look closely at the simplest explanation first, investigators must avoid becoming myopic.
Mylroie appears never to have absorbed the implications of Occam's Razor, the basic philosophical and scientific principle generally understood to be: "Of two competing theories or explanations, all other things being equal, the simpler one is to be preferred.
The curriculum teaches a variety of concepts and approaches to problem solving including brainstorming, Pareto charts and histograms, force field analysis, fishbone diagram, six-word diagram, Occam's Razor, the Delphi approach, swapping technique, designing check sheets, and more.
Occam's Razor refers to the philosophical principle of economy by which William of Ockham rejected what he saw as unnecessary assumptions or unwarranted influences in argumentation.
I paraphrased that same sentiment in last April's CEO Journal ("The Answer is Occam's Razor," p.
strategies of the early 1950's, but that this emphasis on predictions in subsequent work may have also led to a misapplication of Occam's Razor in Labor economics.
In keeping with the principle of Occam's Razor, they have created a simplified HIS solution for rural, critical-access, and community hospitals.
As a judge of the 2010 and 2011 Wagner Awards, Morris' advice to authors of Wagner Award paper submissions is to keep in mind Occam's Razor (Simply said, Occam stated that the simpler of two theories was probably the better theory) and the words of Albert Einstein, "In my view, such more complicated systems and their combinations should be considered only if there exist physical-empirical reasons to do so.
Other topics that are distilled through these concepts include Occam's razor, the Bell Curve and IQ testing practices in the United States.
OCCAM'S Razor - it's a philosophical and scientific principle that usually applies well to everyday life, too.