Simplicity in Theory-Construction and Evaluation: The Case of the Chromosome Theory of Mendalian Inheritance

  • Marga Vicedo
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 236)


This paper analyzes the role played by the criterion of simplicity in the construction and evaluation of the Chromosome Theory of Mendelian Inheritance. First, I briefly discuss some views on simplicity held by philosophers. We can see that despite their different views on scientific methodology and epistemology, most of them consider simplicity as a substantive value that is used in science to choose between theories. Then I analyze the arguments used by scientists to evaluate the hypothesis that genes are pieces of chromosomes to see whether simplicity played any role in their decisions. My conclusion is that the simplicity of the hypothesis that identified the genes with the chromosomes was not taken as a reason to accept it. Finally, I argue that the unifying character of a hypothesis and the ontological and descriptive simplicity achieved by it, should not be taken as reasons for its plausibility.


Mendelian Inheritance Chromosome Theory Logical Empiricist Unify Hypothesis Theory Appraisal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marga Vicedo
    • 1
  1. 1.Arizona State University WestUSA

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