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Hitchens's razor

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Hitchens's razor is an epistemological razor expressed by writer Christopher Hitchens, asserting that the burden of proof regarding the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the claim; if this burden is not met, then the claim is unfounded, and its opponents need not argue further in order to dismiss it.

Hitchens has phrased the razor in writing as "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."[1][2][3][4]

Origin[edit]

The concept, named after journalist, author, and avowed atheist Christopher Hitchens, echoes Occam's razor.[5][6][7] The dictum appears in Hitchens's 2007 book titled God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.[8][4] It takes a stronger stance than the Sagan standard ("Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"), instead applying to even non-extraordinary claims.

It has been compared to the Latin proverb quod grātīs asseritur, grātīs negātur ("What is asserted gratuitously may be denied gratuitously"), which was commonly used in the 19th century.[9][10]

See also[edit]

  • The Demon-Haunted World – Book on the scientific method by Carl Sagan
  • Evil God Challenge – Thought experiment in philosophy
  • Falsifiability – The possibility of a statement to be proven wrong by observation
  • Alder's razor – A philosophical razor devised by Mike Alder
  • Hanlon's razor – Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
  • Occam's razor – Philosophical principle of selecting the solution with the fewest assumptions
  • List of eponymous laws – Links to articles on laws, principles, adages, and other succinct observations or predictions named after a person
  • Russell's teapot – Analogy coined by Bertrand Russell

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Oxford Essential Quotations (4 ed.): Facts". Oxford Press. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 June 2019. What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. Christopher Hitchens 1949–2011 English-born American journalist and writer: in Slate Magazine 20 October 2003
  2. ^ McGrattan, Cillian (2016). The Politics of Trauma and Peace-Building: Lessons from Northern Ireland. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 2. ISBN 978-1138775183.
  3. ^ Antony, Michael (2010). "Where's The Evidence?". Philosophy Now: a magazine of ideas. Issue 78. Retrieved 19 June 2019. As Christopher Hitchens is fond of saying, ‘what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.’
  4. ^ a b Hitchens, Christopher (6 April 2009). God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Kindle ed.). Twelve Books. p. 258. ASIN B00287KD4Q. What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. This is even more true when the ‘evidence’ eventually offered is so shoddy and self-interested.
  5. ^ Kinsley, Michael (13 May 2007). "In God, Distrust". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2019. Hitchens is attracted repeatedly to the principle of Occam’s razor
  6. ^ Melchior, Jillian (21 September 2017). "Inside the Madness at Evergreen State". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 June 2019. Mr. Coffman cited Christopher Hitchens's variation of Occam's razor: 'What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without' [evidence]
  7. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (6 April 2009). God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Kindle ed.). Twelve Books. p. 119. ASIN B00287KD4Q. [William Ockham] devised a 'principle of economy,' popularly known as 'Ockham’s razor,' which relied for its effect on disposing of unnecessary assumptions and accepting the first sufficient explanation or cause. 'Do not multiply entities beyond necessity.' This principle extends itself. 'Everything which is explained through positing something different from the act of understanding,' he wrote, 'can be explained without positing such a distinct thing.'
  8. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (2007). God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York, NY: Twelve Books. p. 150. ISBN 978-1843545743.
  9. ^ Reinhardt, Damion (25 July 2015). "The Long History of Hitchens' Razor". Skeptic Ink. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  10. ^ Jon R. Stone, The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations (2005), p. 101.