I hear people quote Ockham’s Razor incorrectly nearly every single time it is offered. I too used to hold a fundamental misunderstanding of this principle. What most people regurgitate is something along these lines:
The simplest explanation is usually the best one. –Incorrect
When you and I agree that the simplest answer is the best answer, we’ve embraced laziness. Yes, it could be true that the simplest is the correct answer, but we shouldn’t attribute such a notion to Ockham. He appears to have been a very decent man, and that notion IS NOT what he offered the world for consideration. Ockham’s Razor, otherwise known as the principle (or law) of parsimony, is a core problem-solving principle. I’m still not clear on whether this English-Franciscan friar actually wrote those words or spoke them. But they’re attributed to him nonetheless. Ockham used the principle of parsimony routinely in both his philosophy and Theology. Here is the proper Ockham’s Razor:
Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. -William of Ockham (1287-1347)
So what is the difference and why do I care, right? To say the simplest explanation tends to be the best, is not only lazy, but ‘best’ by whose definition? Instead, what Ockham used daily was the idea that making things unnecessarily complex would likely skew or alter the natural outcome. What Ockham was saying, simply put, is not that we need to search for the simple answer, but rather, that we should avoid making things complex when it isn’t necessary. When we dissect things like firearm ownership, gun control, and the like, it tends to get complex, and quickly. But it hadn’t ought to.
What we need is to remember Ockham’s Razor correctly, and put it into practice for our Second Amendment argument. Each time people propose gun control, they have reasons for doing so. Some are well-intentioned, some are silly. Regardless, they don’t apply to you and me. Why? Because we, the overwhelming law-abiding majority, aren’t misusing self-defense tools. We aren’t breaking the law. So why restrict ONLY the people who are adhering to the law? Doesn’t that sound complex to you? It should because it is. Keep our thoughts and arguments simple. Don’t make them complex when they don’t need to be.
If a freedom-hater rolls up to hound you about a crazy person who might get a gun if “gun control” isn’t implemented, what does that have to do with you or me? You and I aren’t bad actors, right? Then, why are we forced to pay for the iniquities of others? Why are we defaulting to group punishment veiled as law? And, oh by the way, if there is a crazy person with access to a gun out there, why am I denied a self-defense tool when the freedom haters just made the point that we need it? Apply Ockham’s Razor often, avoid making things complex, and offer the truth.
Michael Ware – IFC