I found this posting from the Erlang mailing list, where Joe Armstrong, the inventor of Erlang, explains the philosophy. Some of the highlights of his premises ..
In C etc. you have to write *something* if you detect an error - in Erlang it's easy - don't even bother to write code that checks for errors - "just let it crash".
Of course he explains how to handle crash in Erlang. It is very much related to the basic idiom of concurrency and fault tolerance that forms the backbone of Erlang's process structure. In Erlang, you can link processes, so that the linked process can keep an eye on the health of the other process. Once linked, the processes will implicitly monitor each other and if one of them crashes, the other process will be signalled. To handle the crash, Erlang suggests to use linked processes to correct the error. These linked processes need not run on the same processor as the original process, and this is where the Erlang philosophy of make-everything-distributable comes in. Joe mentions in this thread ..
Why was error handling designed like this?
Easy - to make fault-tolerant systems you need TWO processors. You can never ever make a fault tolerant system using just one processor - because if that processor crashes you are scomblonked.
One physical processor does the job - another separated physical processor watches the first processor fixes errors if the first processor crashes - this is the simplest possible was of making a fault-tolerant system.
This is also an example of separation of concerns where the handling of a crash is separately handled through a distribution mechanism. You do not code for checking of errors - let it crash and then you have a built-in mechanism of recovery within the process structure. To a layman, it feels a bit unsettling to deploy your production system in a language that follows the "let-it-crash" philosophy, but with the amazing track record of Erlang in designing fault tolerant distributed systems, it speaks volumes of the robustness and reliability of the underlying engine.