Definition

Ockham's razor (Occam's razor)

Part of the Business terms glossary:

Ockham's razor (also spelled Occam's razor, pronounced AHK-uhmz RAY-zuhr) is the idea that, in trying to understand something, getting unnecessary information out of the way is the fastest way to the truth or to the best explanation. William of Ockham (1285-1349), English theologian and philosopher, spent his life developing a philosophy that reconciled religious belief with demonstratable, generally experienced truth, mainly by separating the two. Where earlier philosophers attempted to justify God's existence with rational proof, Ockham declared religious belief to be incapable of such proof and a matter of faith. He rejected the notions preserved from Classical times of the independent existence of qualities such as truth, hardness, and durability and said these ideas had value only as descriptions of particular objects and were really characteristics of human cognition.

Ockham was noted for his insistence on paying close attention to language as a tool for thinking and on observation as a tool for testing reality. His thinking and writing is considered to have laid the groundwork for modern scientific inquiry.

Ockham's insistence on the use of parsimony (we might call it minimalism) in thought resulted in some later writer's invention of the term, Ockham's razor. Among his statements (translated from his Latin) are: "Plurality is not to be assumed without necessity" and "What can be done with fewer [assumptions] is done in vain with more." One consequence of this methodology is the idea that the simplest or most obvious explanation of several competing ones is the one that should be preferred until it is proven wrong.

This was last updated in September 2005
Contributor(s): Jay Patel
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • IT asset lifecycle

    - The IT asset lifecycle is the stages that an organization’s information technology asset goes through during the time span of its ownership. An IT asset is any company-owned information, software o... (WhatIs.com)

  • cultural fit

    - Cultural fit is the likelihood that a job candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviors that make up an organization. (SearchCIO.com)

  • benefit corporation (B Corporation)

    - Benefit corporation (B corp) is a type of corporate structure recognized by some state governments in the United States. In addition to being profitable, a benefit corporation assumes the legal res... (SearchCIO.com)

Glossaries

  • Business terms

    - Terms related to business, including definitions about project management and words and phrases about human resources, finance and vertical industries.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About Ockham's razor (Occam's razor)Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.