(1996) Synthese 107 (3).

A simplification of the theory of simplicity

Samuel A. Richmond

pp. 373-393

Nelson Goodman has constructed two theories of simplicity: one of predicates; one of hypotheses. I offer a simpler theory by generalization and abstraction from his. Generalization comes by dropping special conditions Goodman imposes on which unexcluded extensions count as complicating and which excluded extensions count as simplifying. Abstraction is achieved by counting only nonisomorphic models and subinterpretations. The new theory takes into account all the hypotheses of a theory in assessing its complexity, whether they were projected prior to, or result from, projection of a given hypothesis. It assigns simplicity post-projection priority over simplicity pre-projection. It better orders compound conditionals than does the theory of simplicity of hypotheses, and it does not inherit an anomaly of the theory of simplicity of predicates — its failure to order the ordering relations. Drop Goodman's special conditions, and the problems fall away with them.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/BF00413842

Full citation:

Richmond, S. A. (1996). A simplification of the theory of simplicity. Synthese 107 (3), pp. 373-393.

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