Submitted by jhwierenga on Mon, 07/30/2018 - 07:35

Framing is the process of leaving out or obscuring, from the set of phenomena that need to be explained, those phenomena which would lead to the explanation incurring a disadvantage relative to other explanations.  The frame is the boundary of the set of phenomena. The frame is so chosen that phenomena which the explanation accounts for well are within the frame, and other phenomena  are outside of it. For example, it is framing when the Big Bang theory is posited as the explanation for how the universe came to be as it is, but questions as to how the initial state of the universe came into existence are left off the agenda. It is also framing when those who claim that the universe has always existed contend that it is therefore somehow not necessary to answer the question as to why there is something and not nothing.

If the frames we use are the result of objective processes, framing wouldn’t be such a bad thing. It would help us focus on the differences between explanations for the same set of phenomena. After all, it is exceedingly impractical to have to take things back to the origins of the universe in every single discussion. However, in practice people tend to choose frames that suit their explanations.

The Occam method is intended to discourage the framing of arguments in order to make them seem more reasonable than they actually are.  It therefore insists that the set of phenomena addressed by an explanation is explicitly stated. That by itself is enough to ensure that competing explanations can be compared objectively. If they account for the same phenomena, then the explanation with the lowest Occam score is to be preferred. However, that is not enough to prevent framing. For that to happen, we must examine the set of phenomena, in order to determine if it is naturally bounded. It is naturally bounded if there are no phenomena which are assumed by both the description of the phenomena and its explanations, but with an Occam score substantially higher than the simplest explanation. In the case of the Big Bang, to omit the initial state from the phenomena is to do precisely that. The initial state has an Occam score that is almost off the scale: an unbounded paradox (which could be downgraded to a chaotic paradox given a limitative list of natural laws). Any explanation built on such a foundation is suspect, because  it is quite possible that there is an  explanation that, despite appearing to be more complex,  does account for the initial state and therefore has a substantially lower true Occam score for the combination of the initial state and the subsequent development of the universe .