re 5510 >On Sat, 05 May 2001, you wrote: >> Inspired by Nicky's  -- excerpts of which >> >> Does Ockham's Razor then not suggest that we >> should embrace VFT in preference to Marx's >> theory? By the same token, does Ockham's Razor >> suggest that we should embrace surplus approach >> theory in preference to either VFT or Marx's >> theory? >> >> >> 1) to what extent can an appeal to empirical >> evidence 'settle' the question of the superiority >> of alternative paradigms? > >There is an extensive literature on the relationship >between Occams razor and choice between theorems. >This goes under the heading of the Mininum >Description Length principle, for an exlanation see: >http://www.cyc.com/tech-reports/act-cyc-234-90/section3_4.html#SECTION0004000000000000000 >or do a web search on Minimum Description Length. Paul C, I may be missing the point of Occam's razor but this website does not seem to understand it. As Schumpeter notes, the debate was one between nominalists and realists, though the realists in maintaining that only ideas and general concepts had real existence were at odds with the contemporary meaning of realism. The nominalists on the other hand argued that there were only singular individuals so that words designating a group of individuals or concept were only useful conventions but did not designate a reality and were thus to be mistrusted. Occam thus maintained that "one should not needlessly increase the number of abstract entities," that principle of economy being known as Occam's razor. Just the simple injunction to minimize constants in a regression formula does not seem to get at the heart of Occam's razor. In fact the relationship of Occam's razor to contemporary statistical work is at another level. For insofar as modern statistical knowledge attempts to substitute "synthetic substitutes for multiple things", e.g., THE price index, for increases in price; THE unemployment rate, for unemployed persons, it attempts to constitute and support realities of a superior level, while still being grounded in nominalist and individualist conventions. That the status of reality is granted to two levels indicates the ground that has been covered since Occam--as argued by Alain Desrosieres, The Politics of Large Numbers: A History of Statistical reasoning. p. 70 Yours, Rakesh '
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