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By Albert R. Gilgen (Eds.)
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Neither of these two models is seriously entertained today with reference to the nervous system because now we know enough about its functions to see that they are not particularly appropriate; at the time of their initial proposal, however, our ignorance was sufficient to permit their serious consideration. It may also be mentioned that this consideration was more evident with regard to the interpretation of than to the suggestion of empirical research on the nervous system, and in this respect the value of these models was something less than optimal.
F r o m the present point of view, it is not necessary to decide which of these various procedures is best, nor to attempt to decide which of the various criticisms has the most merit. It should be mentioned that there does not seem to be an inherent weakness in any of the theoretical modes described, although different sorts of weaknesses may develop in the various ways in which the procedures are implemented. All of the modes of theory construc tion described may therefore be said to have their place in psychology; which we use will be determined partly by our own experimental background, accounting for our own individual styles of research, and partly by the problems we are attacking.
The principle of parsimony, often called "William of Occam's r a z o r " or "Lloyd Morgan's canon," from early proponents, is concerned, strictly speaking, neither with confirmation nor with discovery. It is a rough guideline to the acceptability of hypotheses and principles. It says that when one selects a proposition as an explanation of some set of events it is safer to choose the alternative that is simplest, in terms of assumptions needed, of those which satisfy all of the data. In this way it is more closely related to confirmation than to discovery, since it emphasizes the fit between data and interpretation.