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Bertuzzi

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Parsimony and Inconsistency
« on: May 20, 2015, 09:42:42 am »
Parsimony is often cited by naturalists/physicalists as one of the primary reasons (if not the only reason) they hold the views they do. They have "no need for that hypothesis". Be it God, miracles, souls, and so on. There are several critiques one might make but allow me to name one I think is often overlooked. Inconsistency.

Parsimony isn't really the goal for the physicalist. It might at face value give them some confidence in rejecting a view they don't find particularly attractive (dualism, say), but why should it give them any confidence in accepting physicalism? Physicalism certainly isn't, on balance, the most parsimonious view out there. So why stop at it? If parsimony is paramount, or at the very least enough to constitute warrant, why not go further? Why not seek and hold the most parsimonious view available?
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kurros

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2015, 09:47:27 am »
What is more parsimonious than physicalism?

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Moot

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2015, 09:56:13 am »
Parsimony is often cited by naturalists/physicalists as one of the primary reasons (if not the only reason) they hold the views they do.

I don't think that's quite what anyone is saying. Rather, if you can explain everything we see by natural forces, we don't add anything without good reason. It's just pretty common sensical. If all the symptoms of frostbite can be explained by the cold, we don't hypothesize fancy snow germs... and so on.

Parsimony isn't really the goal for the physicalist. It might at face value give them some confidence in rejecting a view they don't find particularly attractive (dualism, say), but why should it give them any confidence in accepting physicalism? Physicalism certainly isn't, on balance, the most parsimonious view out there. So why stop at it? If parsimony is paramount, or at the very least enough to constitute warrant, why not go further? Why not seek and hold the most parsimonious view available?

Are you talking about physicalism in the mind/body sense or in general?

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Crash Test

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2015, 10:11:07 am »
What is more parsimonious than physicalism?

That would be my question.  I'm not a physicalist as such, but I don't see what could be more parsimonious than it, apart from maybe idealism...
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Bertuzzi

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2015, 11:39:42 am »
What is more parsimonious than physicalism?

Physicalism posits trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like. Solipsism posits only one mind. There's no need for the solipsist to posit physical reality.
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grosso

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2015, 11:45:40 am »
I was gonna say idealism might be more parsimonious.

But where we end up is not ruling out the appeal to parsimony. Just weakening it to a far smaller role than its being cited as having.

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Booger

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2015, 11:52:21 am »
Is it parsimonious to say God is unnecessary and then postulate an infinite number of universes to explain this one? Just asking.
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Crash Test

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2015, 12:04:08 pm »
Is it parsimonious to say God is unnecessary and then postulate an infinite number of universes to explain this one? Just asking.

I'd say so (though I'd question where an actual infinite number of universes can exist, without ruling it out).  Invoking God means either becoming an idealist, or adding a whole new ontological category and mode of existence to your worldview.  Multiplying universes just means having more of something we already know exists, and have little reason to think would be limited to exactly one.
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Bertuzzi

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2015, 12:24:10 pm »
Is it parsimonious to say God is unnecessary and then postulate an infinite number of universes to explain this one? Just asking.

I'd say so (though I'd question where an actual infinite number of universes can exist, without ruling it out).  Invoking God means either becoming an idealist, or adding a whole new ontological category and mode of existence to your worldview.  Multiplying universes just means having more of something we already know exists, and have little reason to think would be limited to exactly one.

So why aren't you a solipsist? Adding the physical realm invokes a whole new ontological category and mode of existence. You know you exist.
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Crash Test

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2015, 01:05:06 pm »

So why aren't you a solipsist? Adding the physical realm invokes a whole new ontological category and mode of existence. You know you exist.

I don't consider myself ontologically distinct from the "realm" that isn't me.  I'm not a physicalist as such, but I am a monist (or possibly a pluralist).  Moreover, I directly and regularly experience what appear to be other beings.  In fact, psychologically speaking, I was probably aware of them before I was aware of myself.
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Pragmatic

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2015, 01:09:12 pm »
What is more parsimonious than physicalism?

Physicalism posits trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like. Solipsism posits only one mind. There's no need for the solipsist to posit physical reality.

Solipsism posits one mind that experiences "trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like."

Physicalism posits one fundamental type of stuff that forms the building blocks for "trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like."

Solipsism isn't any more parsimonious, and it is much less adequate.
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Bertuzzi

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2015, 01:34:34 pm »

So why aren't you a solipsist? Adding the physical realm invokes a whole new ontological category and mode of existence. You know you exist.

I don't consider myself ontologically distinct from the "realm" that isn't me.  I'm not a physicalist as such, but I am a monist (or possibly a pluralist).  Moreover, I directly and regularly experience what appear to be other beings.  In fact, psychologically speaking, I was probably aware of them before I was aware of myself.

Of course monists don't think the stuff they're made of is different from the stuff the world is made of, but the point, I suppose, is that all you've really got are your experiences. Positing the physical world as an explanation of those experiences requires positing trillions upon trillions of separate and distinct entities with different kinds of properties, and so on. All solipsism requires is positing your own mind as an explanation of your experiences. So since it doesn't require positing all these additional entities, it is more parsimonious. And if parsimony is paramount, why not conclude solipsism? Why stop arbitrarily at physicalism (or whatever)? Be consistent in your metaphysical dedication to parsimony.
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Bertuzzi

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2015, 01:37:11 pm »
What is more parsimonious than physicalism?

Physicalism posits trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like. Solipsism posits only one mind. There's no need for the solipsist to posit physical reality.

Solipsism posits one mind that experiences "trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like."

Physicalism posits one fundamental type of stuff that forms the building blocks for "trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like."

Solipsism isn't any more parsimonious, and it is much less adequate.

It's more parsimonious in the relevant sense. Physical objects aren't necessary to explain our experiences. So why posit them? You don't need that hypothesis.
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Questions11

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2015, 01:47:53 pm »
It does seem true to say that solipsism is the most parsimonious view.  I'm not sure that solipsism can adequately account for all my experiences, though.  For the most parsimonious view that does seem to explain all my experiences you'd have to go to something like theistic idealism.

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Pragmatic

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Re: Parsimony and Inconsistency
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2015, 01:54:34 pm »
What is more parsimonious than physicalism?

Physicalism posits trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like. Solipsism posits only one mind. There's no need for the solipsist to posit physical reality.

Solipsism posits one mind that experiences "trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like."

Physicalism posits one fundamental type of stuff that forms the building blocks for "trillions and trillions of separate entities with different properties, complex organisms, and the like."

Solipsism isn't any more parsimonious, and it is much less adequate.

It's more parsimonious in the relevant sense. Physical objects aren't necessary to explain our experiences. So why posit them? You don't need that hypothesis.

I'm not following. We can either postulate (a) the mind or (b) physical objects. Assuming both postulates can account for our experiences, why is (a) more parsimonious than (b)? Because it's a singular entity? I don't measure parsimony that way. In both cases we're positing one ontological category of things. Perhaps we need to define "parsimony".
Religion was born when the first con man met the first fool.