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A Principle on Economy of Theory in Political Philosophy

When we approach an issue in political philosophy, we should focus our efforts in the development of theory on the approach, among the possibilities, that is the least radical change from the status quo that can accomplish the desired notions of justice/fairness/goodness.

If the issue:

  • Can be addressed in ways with markedly different satisfaction levels of our aims, or
  • The available ways have markedly different risk profiles, or
  • We are uncertain which of the available ways has the most parsimony with existing or future theoretical commitments due to present lack of development of our broader theory
then we should hedge between all interesting commitments, devoting time to each possibility until:
  • that possibility drops out or
  • the distinctions between the possible approaches proves insignificant or
  • a decision really must be made for practical reasons
It is reasonable to devote more time to approaches that prove to have more philosophical traction, although overuse of this risks errors that resemble Loki's Wager.