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Regarding Occams' Razor

themohawkninja
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10/9/2013 9:37:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
There has been a number of times now, where I will debate with my friends, and I will point out that they are making an assumption, in that change will result (the status quo is A, and I am saying that B should be added, to which they disagree by stating that a negative change will occur). They then immediately use my own logic against me by saying that I am as well making the assumption that nothing will change.

Now, I have always looked at the assumption of no change as being a lesser assumption than some change, so that Occams' Razor works out for me, but now I am questioning whether or not certain assumptions can trump others when applying Occams' Razor.

What do you think?
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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10/10/2013 7:12:09 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/9/2013 9:37:48 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
There has been a number of times now, where I will debate with my friends, and I will point out that they are making an assumption, in that change will result (the status quo is A, and I am saying that B should be added, to which they disagree by stating that a negative change will occur). They then immediately use my own logic against me by saying that I am as well making the assumption that nothing will change.

Now, I have always looked at the assumption of no change as being a lesser assumption than some change, so that Occams' Razor works out for me, but now I am questioning whether or not certain assumptions can trump others when applying Occams' Razor.

It is not the nature of specific assumptions (presuming they are atomic propositions), but rather their quantity. If you can arrive at a conclusion with fewer premises, then that is preferred.

What do you think?
Rational_Thinker9119
Posts: 9,054
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10/10/2013 10:57:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/10/2013 7:12:09 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 10/9/2013 9:37:48 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
There has been a number of times now, where I will debate with my friends, and I will point out that they are making an assumption, in that change will result (the status quo is A, and I am saying that B should be added, to which they disagree by stating that a negative change will occur). They then immediately use my own logic against me by saying that I am as well making the assumption that nothing will change.

Now, I have always looked at the assumption of no change as being a lesser assumption than some change, so that Occams' Razor works out for me, but now I am questioning whether or not certain assumptions can trump others when applying Occams' Razor.

It is not the nature of specific assumptions (presuming they are atomic propositions), but rather their quantity. If you can arrive at a conclusion with fewer premises, then that is preferred.

What do you think?

It has nothing to do with quantity, actually. If that was true, then Occam's Razor would say that there is most likely one orb in my hand that can take me to Mars i two seconds, over the possibility of there being a fist full of pennies because we didn't multiply entities unnecessarily. That is absurd, because obviously it is more likely that I have multiple pennies than one orb that can take me to mars; that one item is more of an assumption than the multiple items.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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10/10/2013 11:20:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/10/2013 10:57:06 AM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
At 10/10/2013 7:12:09 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 10/9/2013 9:37:48 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
There has been a number of times now, where I will debate with my friends, and I will point out that they are making an assumption, in that change will result (the status quo is A, and I am saying that B should be added, to which they disagree by stating that a negative change will occur). They then immediately use my own logic against me by saying that I am as well making the assumption that nothing will change.

Now, I have always looked at the assumption of no change as being a lesser assumption than some change, so that Occams' Razor works out for me, but now I am questioning whether or not certain assumptions can trump others when applying Occams' Razor.

It is not the nature of specific assumptions (presuming they are atomic propositions), but rather their quantity. If you can arrive at a conclusion with fewer premises, then that is preferred.

What do you think?

It has nothing to do with quantity, actually. If that was true, then Occam's Razor would say that there is most likely one orb in my hand that can take me to Mars i two seconds, over the possibility of there being a fist full of pennies because we didn't multiply entities unnecessarily. That is absurd, because obviously it is more likely that I have multiple pennies than one orb that can take me to mars; that one item is more of an assumption than the multiple items.

I'm talking about quantity of assumptions, not quantities referred to by the assumptions themselves.

"I have 1 penny" and "I have 2 pennies" are both individual propositions.

Thus, even for your example:

"There is most likely one orb in my hand that can take me to Mars i two seconds.."

And

"There being a fist full of pennies in my hand"

Are each individual assumptions. But even then not really because the first isn't atomic and is the conjunction of the following propositions:

"There is most likely one orb in my hand" AND "The Orb can take me to Mars in two seconds"

Broken down, the first contains more assumptions than the latter. And, even then, the philosophy includes assumptions that are implied and is not limited only to explicit assumptions.
Poetaster
Posts: 587
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10/10/2013 4:43:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Occam's Razor is a maxim, not a law. On this level, I prefer Einstein's Razor: "Make things as simple as possible, but not a bit simpler."
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
themohawkninja
Posts: 816
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10/10/2013 7:13:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
From what I've been reading, I think I am still correct.

If the status quo is A, which currently leads to outcome X, and I propose to add B, so that the outcome is now X+Y, however my friend says that there will be a negative consequence Z, than my Occam's Razor, I have the better argument, because by viewpoint only has the assumptions X and Y, while my friends' has the assumptions X, Y and Z?
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
Poetaster
Posts: 587
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10/10/2013 8:01:22 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
What, exactly, do you believe you are correct about? It's not even clear what is happening in this 'model dispute' which you've constructed.
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
themohawkninja
Posts: 816
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10/10/2013 8:17:39 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/10/2013 8:01:22 PM, Poetaster wrote:
What, exactly, do you believe you are correct about? It's not even clear what is happening in this 'model dispute' which you've constructed.

I should have specified.

I believe that my original viewpoint, that assuming a negative consequence (in addition to the assumed consequence) will result from adding on something to the status quo of a situation constitutes more (although in the original post, I question the quality, and not quantity of the assumption in the situation) assumptions than the assumption that nothing more will happen than the assumed result on top of the status quo from adding something to the status quo.

This is, in fact, slightly different than the original post, as I was told that assumptions themselves are equal units, and that one assumption is no greater, or lesser than another in relation to applying Occams' Razor. It then dawned on me that perhaps my model situation can be looked upon if I break down the situation to find each individual assumption, and tally them up against each other.
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
Poetaster
Posts: 587
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10/11/2013 12:02:44 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I think you are sweating too much over a simple heuristic maxim: Occam's Razor is an informal, commonsense expression of a preference for parsimony, not a lemma or any principle of logic.

I don't know what you mean by "negative" outcomes and consequences. It sounds like you are trying to abstract a particular conversation you've had with a friend into a generalized form, but I think you might be better off just giving a concrete example of your friend's use of Occam's Razor against you.
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
themohawkninja
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10/11/2013 3:05:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/11/2013 12:02:44 AM, Poetaster wrote:
I think you are sweating too much over a simple heuristic maxim: Occam's Razor is an informal, commonsense expression of a preference for parsimony, not a lemma or any principle of logic.

Yeah, I guess. I only learned of it informally, and thought that it was a bit more than just an expression.

I don't know what you mean by "negative" outcomes and consequences. It sounds like you are trying to abstract a particular conversation you've had with a friend into a generalized form, but I think you might be better off just giving a concrete example of your friend's use of Occam's Razor against you.

Well, to describe the discussion, I pointed out to my friend that I thought it was silly that while the age of sexual consent in my state is 16, you can't be in a pornography until you are 18 (status quo). He then pointed out that the law is probably written as "adults are only allowed to be in pornos" instead of "18 and older persons are allowed to be in pornos", so I stated: "Then let's make the legal age of adulthood 16" (B). He then stated that it would be a horrible idea, because if 16 year-olds were adults, than almost all of them would drop out of high school, which would limit them economically, which would eventually lead to a massive crash in the U.S. economy. (Negative consequence). At this point, I stated that he was making a massive assumption that all these bad things would happen, to which he immediately came back saying that I was equally guilty of assuming that nothing bad would happen.
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
The_Fool_on_the_hill
Posts: 6,071
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10/11/2013 8:51:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/10/2013 7:12:09 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 10/9/2013 9:37:48 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
There has been a number of times now, where I will debate with my friends, and I will point out that they are making an assumption, in that change will result (the status quo is A, and I am saying that B should be added, to which they disagree by stating that a negative change will occur). They then immediately use my own logic against me by saying that I am as well making the assumption that nothing will change.

Now, I have always looked at the assumption of no change as being a lesser assumption than some change, so that Occams' Razor works out for me, but now I am questioning whether or not certain assumptions can trump others when applying Occams' Razor.

It is not the nature of specific assumptions (presuming they are atomic propositions), but rather their quantity. If you can arrive at a conclusion with fewer premises, then that is preferred.

What do you think?

The Fool: The rule is that the theory with the least amount of assumptions, is the more efficient one.. The magnitude of the assumptions count as well.. There are greater or lesser leaps of faith.
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
The_Fool_on_the_hill
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10/11/2013 8:56:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/11/2013 3:05:01 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
At 10/11/2013 12:02:44 AM, Poetaster wrote:
I think you are sweating too much over a simple heuristic maxim: Occam's Razor is an informal, commonsense expression of a preference for parsimony, not a lemma or any principle of logic.

Yeah, I guess. I only learned of it informally, and thought that it was a bit more than just an expression.

I don't know what you mean by "negative" outcomes and consequences. It sounds like you are trying to abstract a particular conversation you've had with a friend into a generalized form, but I think you might be better off just giving a concrete example of your friend's use of Occam's Razor against you.

Well, to describe the discussion, I pointed out to my friend that I thought it was silly that while the age of sexual consent in my state is 16, you can't be in a pornography until you are 18 (status quo). He then pointed out that the law is probably written as "adults are only allowed to be in pornos" instead of "18 and older persons are allowed to be in pornos", so I stated: "Then let's make the legal age of adulthood 16" (B). He then stated that it would be a horrible idea, because if 16 year-olds were adults, than almost all of them would drop out of high school, which would limit them economically, which would eventually lead to a massive crash in the U.S. economy. (Negative consequence). At this point, I stated that he was making a massive assumption that all these bad things would happen, to which he immediately came back saying that I was equally guilty of assuming that nothing bad would happen.

The Fool: You can call him on a slippery slope fallacy. I am sure the better justification would be that, the two years in between may give a few years for more development before making those decision.
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
Poetaster
Posts: 587
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10/11/2013 11:48:31 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/11/2013 3:05:01 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
Well, to describe the discussion, I pointed out to my friend that I thought it was silly that while the age of sexual consent in my state is 16, you can't be in a pornography until you are 18 (status quo). He then pointed out that the law is probably written as "adults are only allowed to be in pornos" instead of "18 and older persons are allowed to be in pornos", so I stated: "Then let's make the legal age of adulthood 16" (B). He then stated that it would be a horrible idea, because if 16 year-olds were adults, than almost all of them would drop out of high school, which would limit them economically, which would eventually lead to a massive crash in the U.S. economy. (Negative consequence). At this point, I stated that he was making a massive assumption that all these bad things would happen, to which he immediately came back saying that I was equally guilty of assuming that nothing bad would happen.

As was mentioned by Fool_on_the_Hill, your friend is committing a slippery slope fallacy. But more to the point, I actually don't see how Occam's Razor is applicable to the argument. This is because your dispute is seemingly a normative one, not one concerning descriptions or hypotheses. The maxim of the Razor doesn't suggest that a rule with fewer conditions is morally or legally preferable, but that a descriptive hypothesis with fewer necessary assumptions is generally preferable as a working postulate (i.e. it advises a partiality to parsimony).

So, while you are quite entitled to inquire about Occam's Razor, and we can keep talking about it here, I don't think it is relevant to the argument with your friend. (And this implies that your friend would be in error to "use it against you" in that context.)
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker