James Woodward
University of Pittsburgh
This article discusses the role of simplicity and the notion of a best balance of simplicity and strength within the best systems account (BSA) of laws of nature. The article explores whether there is anything in scientific practice that corresponds to the notion of simplicity or to the trade-off between simplicity and strength to which the BSA appeals. Various theoretical rationales for simplicity preferences and their bearing on the identification of laws are also explored. It is concluded that there are a number of issues about the role of simplicity within the BSA and its relation to strength that need to be addressed before the BSA can be regarded as an adequate account of laws. 1 Introduction2 The Best Systems Account3 The Trade-Off between Simplicity and Strength: Preliminary Considerations4 Alternative Conceptions of the Relationship between Simplicity and Strength5 Two Roles for Simplicity6 Simplicity in the Best Systems Account: Curve-Fitting7 Simplicity as a Corrective for Overfitting8 Descriptive Simplicity in the Best Systems Account?9 Simplicity as Due to Human Intellectual Limitations10 Summary11 Concluding Remarks
Keywords Laws   Philosophy of Science   Simplicity
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axt026
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References found in this work BETA

Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Towards a Best Predictive System Account of Laws of Nature.Chris Dorst - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):877-900.
Making Best Systems Best for Us.Christian Loew & Siegfried Jaag - 2018 - Synthese 197 (6):2525-2550.
Dynamic Humeanism.Michael Townsen Hicks - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):983-1007.

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