Influence of Empiricism on scientific inquiry

Describe the influence of empiricism on scientific inquiry.

Science is influenced by people’s perception of reality because this is what science aims to explain and understand. Empiricism is a theory whereby all knowledge is gained through the senses so our perception of reality is gained only through our senses according to this theory. Using empiricism to answer the epistemology question “How do we know what we don’t know?” reveals that scientific investigation is influenced by what we observe in reality and attempt to explain with the hypothesis then theories when applying the scientific method. Therefore, empiricism can be a source of an inquiry question which can direct a scientific investigation.

For example, observing the wings of a Beatle through the senses of sight. This empirical observation could lead us to inquire “What is the function of the wings of a Beatle?” This results in an experiment where it is observed a Beatle with wings is capable of flying but the same type of Beatle without wings (a genetically identical clone which is genetically engineered not to have wings for a more ethical study to reduce suffering) is unable to fly. Hence the function of the wings was discovered to be for flight hence emporium shaped scientific inquiry.

It should be noted that other ways of knowing can lead to the development of new scientific ideas. For example, thought experiments such as Einstein’s thought experiment to explain the phenomena of simultaneity with a speeding train led to the inquiry and production of the theory of special relativity. 

Visual representation of Empiricism influence on scientific inquiry

Therefore, empiricism is one possible way to generate scientific inquiry questions to study the nature of reality.


Question 1. [not an exam style question]

Define empiricism, what are some of its limitations?

Question 2. [6 marks]

In what ways have empirical observations influenced your scientific understanding and your research inquiry question so far?


Question 1. [not an exam style question]

Empiricism is a philosophy that emphasizes knowledge derived from sensory experience and observation. However, it has limitations such as subjectivity, biases and limitations of senses, theory-ladenness of observation, reliance on inductive reasoning, and theoretical underdetermination. While empiricism has shaped scientific inquiry, it is important to recognize its constraints and complement it with other approaches for a comprehensive understanding of the world.

Question 2. [6 marks]

To evaluate the influence of empirical observations on scientific understanding and research inquiry, we can consider the following six-point marking criteria:

  1. Incorporation of empirical evidence (2 marks): Assess whether empirical observations have been effectively incorporated into the scientific understanding and research inquiry. Look for specific examples of empirical data being referenced and analyzed.
  2. Data-driven conclusions (1 mark): Determine if the conclusions drawn from the empirical observations are based on the available data. Are the conclusions supported by the evidence presented? Avoiding unwarranted generalizations or assumptions is crucial.
  3. Objective analysis (1 mark): Evaluate the objectivity of the analysis conducted on the empirical observations. Is there a balanced consideration of alternative interpretations or biases, or does the analysis appear skewed or one-sided?
  4. Methodological rigor (1 mark): Consider the rigor of the methods employed to collect empirical observations. Were appropriate methodologies and controls used? Assess the validity and reliability of the data collection process.
  5. Generalizability (0.5 marks): Assess the extent to which the empirical observations can be generalized to broader contexts or populations. Are the findings limited to specific cases or can they be applied more broadly?
  6. Implications for future research (0.5 marks): Evaluate whether the empirical observations have prompted new research questions or avenues of investigation. Have the observations contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge and identified potential areas for future inquiry?

Please note that the allocation of marks may vary depending on the specific context and requirements of the evaluation.

Up next: induction vs deduction

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