Reply to Barker

  • Nicholas Rescher
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 15)


Stephen Barker’s stimulating essay focuses on some problems and difficulties regarding what I have termed the “method of applied logic.” One facet of this approach which he finds problematic is its de-emphasis of ontological economy: “He [Rescher] rejects the dictum that ‘to be is to be the value of a variable’ and (presumably on the basis of this) finds no role for simplicity and economy as factors bearing on the acceptability of theories.” But this does not quite manage to convey my view. My position is that of Leibniz: we must combine the concern for comprehensiveness orfecunditas. (adequacy to the full variety of the phenomena) with that for economy orsimplicitas. (under the aegis of the usual standards of effective systematization — simplicity, uniformity, etc.).1As I see it, we must never let our regulative concern for economy, simplicity, elegance, or the like stand in the way of the substantive adequacy of the systems we create under their aegis — the capacity of those systems adequately to accommodate the phenomena with which they are designed to deal.

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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

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  • Nicholas Rescher

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