Empirical evidence

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Empirical evidence relative to the first Gay Head Lighthouse and coastal erosion on the Westerly Point of Martha's Vineyard is available as a reference point. William Waterway Discovery of 1799 Gay Head Lighthouse Foundation.jpg
Empirical evidence relative to the first Gay Head Lighthouse and coastal erosion on the Westerly Point of Martha's Vineyard is available as a reference point.

Empirical evidence is the information received by means of the senses, particularly by observation and documentation of patterns and behavior through experimentation. [1] The term comes from the Greek word for experience, ἐμπειρία (empeiría).

Contents

After Immanuel Kant, in philosophy, it is common to call the knowledge gained a posteriori knowledge (in contrast to a priori knowledge).

Meaning

Empirical evidence is information that verifies the truth (which accurately corresponds to reality) or falsity (inaccuracy) of a claim. In the empiricist view, one can claim to have knowledge only when based on empirical evidence (although some empiricists believe that there are other ways of gaining knowledge). This stands in contrast to the rationalist view under which reason or reflection alone is considered evidence for the truth or falsity of some propositions. [2] Empirical evidence is information acquired by observation or experimentation, in the form of recorded data, which may be the subject of analysis (e.g. by scientists). This is the primary source of empirical evidence. Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research. [2]

Empirical evidence may be synonymous with the outcome of an experiment. In this regard, an empirical result is a unified confirmation. In this context, the term semi-empirical is used for qualifying theoretical methods that use, in part, basic axioms or postulated scientific laws and experimental results. Such methods are opposed to theoretical ab initio methods, which are purely deductive and based on first principles.[ citation needed ]

In science, empirical evidence is required for a hypothesis to gain acceptance in the scientific community. Normally, this validation is achieved by the scientific method of forming a hypothesis, experimental design, peer review, reproduction of results, conference presentation, and journal publication. This requires rigorous communication of hypothesis (usually expressed in mathematics), experimental constraints and controls (expressed necessarily in terms of standard experimental apparatus), and a common understanding of measurement.

Statements and arguments depending on empirical evidence are often referred to as a posteriori ("following experience") as distinguished from a priori (preceding it). A priori knowledge or justification is independent of experience (for example "All bachelors are unmarried"), whereas a posteriori knowledge or justification is dependent on experience or empirical evidence (for example "Some bachelors are very happy"). The notion that the distinction between a posteriori and a priori is tantamount to the distinction between empirical and non-empirical knowledge comes from Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. [3]

The standard positivist view of empirically acquired information has been that observation, experience, and experiment serve as neutral arbiters between competing theories. However, since the 1960s, a persistent critique most associated with Thomas Kuhn, [4] [ page needed ] has argued that these methods are influenced by prior beliefs and experiences. Consequently, it cannot be expected that two scientists when observing, experiencing, or experimenting on the same event will make the same theory-neutral observations. The role of observation as a theory-neutral arbiter may not be possible. Theory-dependence of observation means that, even if there were agreed methods of inference and interpretation, scientists may still disagree on the nature of empirical data. [5]

See also

Footnotes

  1. Pickett 2006 , p. 585
  2. 1 2 Feldman 2001 , p. 293
  3. Craig 2005 , p. 1
  4. Kuhn 1970
  5. Bird 2013

Related Research Articles

Empirical research is research using empirical evidence. It is a way of gaining knowledge by means of direct and indirect observation or experience. Empiricism values such research more than other kinds. Empirical evidence can be analyzed quantitatively or qualitatively. Quantifying the evidence or making sense of it in qualitative form, a researcher can answer empirical questions, which should be clearly defined and answerable with the evidence collected. Research design varies by field and by the question being investigated. Many researchers combine qualitative and quantitative forms of analysis to better answer questions which cannot be studied in laboratory settings, particularly in the social sciences and in education.

In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views of epistemology, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasises the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions. However, empiricists may argue that traditions arise due to relations of previous sense experiences.

Falsifiability possibility of a statement to be proven wrong by observation

Informally, a statement is falsifiable if some observation might show it to be false. For example, "All swans are white" is falsifiable because "Here is a black swan" shows it to be false. The apparent contradiction seen in the case of a true but falsifiable statement disappears once we know the technical definition.

Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle. Also called verificationism, this would-be theory of knowledge asserted that only statements verifiable through direct observation or logical proof are meaningful. Starting in the late 1920s, groups of philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians formed the Berlin Circle and the Vienna Circle, which, in these two cities, would propound the ideas of logical positivism.

Scientific method Interplay between observation, experiment and theory in science

The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.

Scientific evidence is evidence that serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis. Such evidence is expected to be empirical evidence and interpretation in accordance with scientific method. Standards for scientific evidence vary according to the field of inquiry, but the strength of scientific evidence is generally based on the results of statistical analysis and the strength of scientific controls.

In philosophy of science and in epistemology, instrumentalism is a methodological view that ideas are useful instruments, and that the worth of an idea is based on how effective it is in explaining and predicting phenomena. Instrumentalism is a pragmatic philosophy of John Dewey that thought is an instrument for solving practical problems, and that truth is not fixed but changes as problems change. Instrumentalism is the view that scientific theories are useful tools for predicting phenomena instead of true or approximately true descriptions.

<i>Critique of Pure Reason</i> 1781 book by Immanuel Kant

The Critique of Pure Reason is a book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in which the author seeks to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. Also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition, Kant explains that by a "critique of pure reason" he means a critique "of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience" and that he aims to reach a decision about "the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics".

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to scientific method:

Postpositivism metatheoretical stance that critiques and amends positivism, arguing that theories, hypotheses, background knowledge and values of the researcher can influence what is observed

In philosophy and models of scientific inquiry, postpositivism is a metatheoretical stance that critiques and amends positivism. While positivists emphasize independence between the researcher and the researched person, postpositivists argue that theories, hypotheses, background knowledge and values of the researcher can influence what is observed. Postpositivists pursue objectivity by recognizing the possible effects of biases. While positivists emphasize quantitative methods, postpositivists consider both quantitative and qualitative methods to be valid approaches.

Naturalized epistemology, coined by W. V. O. Quine, is a collection of philosophic views concerned with the theory of knowledge that emphasize the role of natural scientific methods. This shared emphasis on scientific methods of studying knowledge shifts focus to the empirical processes of knowledge acquisition and away from many traditional philosophical questions. There are noteworthy distinctions within naturalized epistemology. Replacement naturalism maintains that traditional epistemology should be abandoned and replaced with the methodologies of the natural sciences. The general thesis of cooperative naturalism is that traditional epistemology can benefit in its inquiry by using the knowledge we have gained from the cognitive sciences. Substantive naturalism focuses on an asserted equality of facts of knowledge and natural facts.

Laurence BonJour is an American philosopher and Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Washington.

This timeline of the history of scientific method shows an overview of the cultural inventions that have contributed to the development of the scientific method. For a detailed account, see History of the scientific method.

The analytic–synthetic distinction is a semantic distinction, used primarily in philosophy to distinguish propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. Analytic propositions are true by virtue of their meaning, while synthetic propositions are true by how their meaning relates to the world. However, philosophers have used the terms in very different ways. Furthermore, philosophers have debated whether there is a legitimate distinction.

The Latin phrases a priori and a posteriori are philosophical terms popularized by Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. However, in their Latin forms they appear in Latin translations of Euclid's Elements, of about 300 BC, a work widely considered during the early European modern period as the model for precise thinking.

Inductivism is the traditional model of scientific method attributed to Francis Bacon, who in 1620 vowed to subvert allegedly traditional thinking. In the Baconian model, one observes nature, proposes a modest law to generalize an observed pattern, confirms it by many observations, ventures a modestly broader law, and confirms that, too, by many more observations, while discarding disconfirmed laws. The laws grow ever broader but never much exceed careful, extensive observation. Thus, freed from preconceptions, scientists gradually uncover nature's causal and material structure.

Schopenhauer's criticism of Kant's schemata is part of Schopenhauer's criticism of the Kantian philosophy which was published in 1819. In the appendix to the first volume of his main work, The World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer attempted to assign the psychological cause of Kant's doctrines of the categories and their schemata. Schopenhauer's analysis holds that Kant misused argument by analogy to connect abstract reasoning to empirical perception; Schopenhauer argues that this comparison is baseless, and that its conclusions are thus invalid.

Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", "What do people know?", "How do we know what we know?", and "Why do we know what we know?". Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to knowledge:

A posteriori necessity is a thesis in metaphysics and the philosophy of language, that some statements of which we must acquire knowledge a posteriori are also necessarily true. It challenges previously widespread belief that only a priori knowledge can be necessary. It draws on a number of philosophical concepts such as necessity, the causal theory of reference, rigidity, and the a priori a posteriori distinction.

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