Punch’s Razor

Wow that’s a cool name.

John Punch, in 1639, wrote a commentary on John Duns’s work (also Duns Scotus / Don Scotus) and in the course of that, incorporated his paraphrase of some of William of Ockham’s ideas.

Well, that was a mouthful. Lots of old Johns and Williams without real last names. 400-700 years later this makes them very hard to necessarily and sufficiently refer to.

So Occam’s1 Razor stated as

Non sunt multiplicanda entia sine necessitate

could rightly be called Punch’s Razor. Which still sounds damn awesome.

Those words are commonly attributed to Ockham himself, but they are in fact Punch’s wording. You can blame the symbolic power of a convenient label.


1Yes, the philosophical concept is spelled different from his hometown. Again, the difficulty with transfer of a dynamic, uncodified knowledge system (i.e. medieval spelling) across half a millennium.