Logical razor

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A logical razor is a rational principle used to shave off possible but unrealistic or unlikely explanations for a given phenomena. Common examples include Occam's razor and Alder's razor.

Contents

[edit] Common razors

Below is a short and non-comprehensive list of logical razors.

[edit] Occam's razor

See the main article on this topic: Occam's razor
"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate", or plurality should not be posited without necessity.
—William of Occam[1]

Occam's razor was formulated by William of Occam. In short, it states that the hypothesis that makes the least assumptions is the best answer for the phenomenon. Note that Occam's razor does not say that the more simple a hypothesis, the better.[1] That would let other 'explanations' gain traction.

[edit] Occam's duct tape

It's as if Inigo Montoya woke up in Coruscant.

Also known as Occam's Krazy Glue or Occam's Stapler[2] this is pretty much the exact opposite of Occam's razor — let's see how many unnecessary and useless assumptions we can make, mmkay? It makes much more sense that a omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent sentient being broke the natural laws he (or she) made in order to create the universe as we see it, right? Good thing that the being also made the world in such a way as to point away from the same entity being the creator, yeah?

[edit] Alder's razor

See the main article on this topic: Logical positivism

This razor was formulated by Mike Alder and is better known by its correct name, Newton's flaming laser sword. It says that whatever cannot be settled by experimentation is not worth debate. Interestingly enough, this very statement can't be tested by experimentation, but whatever, y'know?

[edit] Crabtree's bludgeon

No set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated it may be.
—Presumably a guy named Crabtree[3]

Crabtree's bludgeon is an observation which serves as a foil to Occam's razor, characterising a very different cognitive process exhibited in certain kinds of people.

[edit] Hanlon's razor

See the main article on this topic: Hanlon's razor
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
—Robert J. Hanlon[4]

This one's pretty easy. I mean, what's easier to believe? That the average homeopath maliciously tries to entice and seduce people into drinking water remedies? Or that he's too stupid to know that it's water dihydrogen monoxide?

[edit] Grice's razor

As a principle of parsimony, conversational implications are to be preferred over semantic context for linguistic explanations.
—Grice, we think?[5]

Basically, when in a conversation, prefer what the speaker meant over what the sentence she spoke literally meant.

[edit] Hume's razor

See the main article on this topic: David Hume
Hitchens at his finest.
If the cause, assigned for any effect, be not sufficient to produce it, we must either reject that cause, or add to it such qualities as will give it a just proportion to the effect.
—Hume[6]

The cause must be proportionate to the effect it produces.

[edit] Hitchens's razor

See the main article on this topic: Christopher Hitchens
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur, or what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
—Christopher Hitchens[7]

Used during the act of hitchslapping, this short-but-sweet razor asserts that the burden of proof regarding the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the claim and that if this burden is not met, the claim is unfounded and its opponents need not argue further in order to dismiss it.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Occam's Razor, Skeptic
  2. Occam's duct tape, TV Tropes
  3. At the Christmas party, British Medical Journal
  4. Hanlon's Razor, Wikiquote
  5. Implicature, The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
  6. Miles, Murray Lewis. "Chapter 31: The Undoing of Divine Justice." Inroads: Paths in Ancient and Modern Western Philosophy. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2003. 531. Print. Section 31.5.3, Hume's Razor.
  7. Hitchens's Razor, Wikiquote
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