Newton's flaming laser sword

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Alternative forms[edit]


Named after Isaac Newton. Coined by Australian mathematician Mike Alder in a 2004 article of the same title,[1] to be hyperbolically “much sharper and more dangerous than Occam's Razor”.

Proper noun[edit]

Newton's flaming laser sword

  1. A philosophical razor which states that what cannot be settled by experiment is not worth debating.
    Synonym: Alder's razor
    Coordinate term: Occam's razor
    • 2004, Alder, Mike, “Newton's Flaming Laser Sword, Or: Why Mathematicians and Scientists don't like Philosophy but do it anyway”, in Philosophy now[2], volume 46, pages 29–32:
      Mathematicians and scientists feel that they have found a more difficult but much more satisfying game to play. Newton's Flaming Laser Sword is one of the rules of that game.
    • 2010 October 25, Valhallen, “Re: The meaning of the universe explained by Jesus”, in Snafu Comics[3], retrieved 2011-12-05:
      Also, I invoke Newton's Flaming Laser Sword on this thread.
    • 2011 January 5, Arkhanno, “Re: Atheists don't know how to reason”, in I Wanna Be The Forums[4], retrieved 2011-12-05:
      I prefer to be anti-religion and live by Newton's flaming laser sword, Occam's Razor and Hanlon's Razor.
    • 2011 January 8, Azwraith, “Atheism - Belief? Religion? (comment)”, in Minegarde[5], retrieved 2011-12-05:
      What is the actual point of adding in God to your equation if it is a unknown domain? So, we remove such variables using the Newton's Flaming Laser Sword.
    • 2011 July 19, Drastic, “Thought Experiment Regarding Morality (comment)”, in That Guy With the Glasses[6], retrieved 2011-12-05:
      Just demanding there is nothing you can do, because the flashy light told you so is grounds for Newton's Flaming Laser Sword.
    • 2011 September 12, Decivre, “Open thread on Episode #726 (comment)”, in The Atheist Experience[7], retrieved 2011-12-05:
      Put as much math as you want to it, and it's still a philosophical statement... to which I say that Newton's Flaming Laser Sword is the best response: "what cannot be settled by experiment is not worth debating".

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Alder, Mike (2004), “Newton's Flaming Laser Sword”, in Philosophy Now[1], issue 46, ISSN 0961-5970, pages 29–33