Vincent Lo Re, MD; Lisa M. Bellini, MD
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Re VL, Bellini LM. William of Occam and Occam's Razor. Ann Intern Med. 2002;136:634-635. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-136-8-200204160-00022
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(8):634-635.
TO THE EDITOR:
Attributed to the 14th-century English philosopher and theologian William of Ockham (simplified to “Occam” by medieval spelling), Occam's razor is a logical device used by physicians to identify the single best cause of a patient's constellation of symptoms (1, 2). Most clinicians know very little about Occam and the origin of the principle that bears his name.
William was born in 1285 in Ockham, England. As a youngster in the Franciscan order, he studied logic (3). Subsequently, he studied theology at Oxford University (3). He lectured on theological works, using his passion for logic to identify inconsistencies in Catholic Church teachings. Such heretical views resulted in his expulsion from the university in 1319 and a presence before Pope John XXII in Avignon, France, in 1324 (3).
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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