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SIMPLICITY

Maxwell, Nicholas (2000) SIMPLICITY. [Preprint]

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Abstract

There are two problems of simplicity. What does it mean to characterize a scientific theory as simple, unified or explanatory in view of the fact that a simple theory can always be made complex (and vice versa) by a change of terminology? How is preference in science for simple theories to be justified? In this paper I put forward a proposal as to how the first problem is to be solved. The more nearly the totality of fundamental physical theory exemplifies the metaphysical thesis that the universe has a unified dynamic structure, so the simpler that totality of theory is. What matters is content, not form. This proposed solution may appear to be circular, but I argue that it is not. Towards the end of the paper I make a few remarks about the second, justificational problem of simplicity.


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Item Type: Preprint
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Maxwell, Nicholas
Keywords: simplicity unity beauty metaphysics symmetry explanation empiricism theory-of-everything gauge invariance induction physicalism
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Nicholas Maxwell
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2001
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:10
Item ID: 252
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/252

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