Monday, December 18, 2017

Can we reject Ockham's Razor?

Can you just say "to heck with Ockham's Razor? It is interesting in my area of research where atheists insist that rational and nonrational explanations don't exclude one another and both are true, yet physical explanations exclude theological explanations, because of Ockham's Razor. If the mind can be fully explained as the result of physical causes, and we apply Ockham's Razor, it becomes Ockham's Lobotomy, and we are all mindless.

5 comments:

Ron said...

“If the mind can be fully explained as the result of physical causes, and we apply Ockham's Razor, it becomes Ockham's Lobotomy, and we are all mindless.“

Well if the physical explanation leaves us mindless, then surely it hasn’t “fully explained” the mind. Ockhams razor only forces us to choose the simpler of two hypotheses when they are both capable of explaining the data, not the simplest in general. Your beef isn’t with Ockhams razor; it’s with the idea that a physical explanation can “fully explain” the data.

Victor Reppert said...

But the physical data is fully explained, some might say, and everything else is just "user illusion." How do we decide what "the data" is going to be? If someone has an experience of God, do we say that every explanation of said experience that treats this as an actual experience of God just doesn't explain the data?

David Brightly said...

Isn't this a bit like saying, If trees can be explained as the result material particles and physical causes operating between them, and we apply Ockham's Razor, then it becomes Ockham's ChainSaw, and there are no trees?

Victor Reppert said...

Not exactly, but that's a good argument, too. If physicalism is true, then there are no middle-sized physical objects, only the entities referred to by physics.

David Brightly said...

Is it that cut-and-dried? I'm by no means sure. (1) Why is physicalism incompatible with there being middle-sized objects? (2) Do the entities of basic physics qualify as entities in the usual sense anyway, what with indeterminacy and non-locality?

One might suggest that there are multiple explanatory 'domains'---Aristotle proposed four I believe---and the Razor applies within a single domain, but not across domains.