, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 387–392 | Cite as

Sober as a Judge

Elliott Sober: Ockham’s Razors: A user’s manual. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 322pp, $29.99 (paperback), $99.99 (hardback)
  • Gordon Belot

Elliott Sober has a long-standing interest in delimiting the epistemic, as opposed to pragmatic or aesthetic, relevance of parsimony considerations. He tells us in his marvellous new book, Ockham’s Razors, that his goal “is to determine when parsimony is relevant and when it is not. It is obvious that simple theories may be beautiful and easy to remember and understand. The hard problem is to explain why the fact that one theory is simpler than another tells you anything about the way the world is” (2). This is a ferociously difficult problem, and although it lies at the heart of much of contemporary philosophy of science and epistemology, it is embarrassingly often complacently shirked rather than confronted. Few philosophers have worked so hard, judiciously, and productively on the problem as Sober has, and Ockham’s Razors provides an invaluable synthesis and overview of this work.

At the core of Ockham’s Razorsis the fascinating analysis in Chapter 2 of two “parsimony paradigms.”...


  1. Juhl, Cory. 1994. The speed-optimality of Reichenbach’s straight rule of induction. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45: 857–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Shao, Jun. 1997. Asymptotic theory of linear model selection. Statistica Sinica 7: 221–242.Google Scholar
  3. Sober, Elliott. 1988. Likelihood and convergence. Philosophy of Science 55: 228–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Sober, Elliott. 2008. Evidence and evolution: the logic behind the science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations