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Naive Empiricism

Also see: Epistemology

Naive Empiricism is a philosophy about how one should best approach science. It is an attempt to explain what types of actions are acceptable in science and the best way to use science to our advantage. Naive Empiricism refers to the belief that scientist should try to be as objective and neutral as possible when studying something. Scientists should approach a problem with no preconceived expectations or assumptions which have not been previously studied and justified using the scientific method. Naive empiricism stresses the importance of relying on empirical observations about the world and not our interpretations of those observations.

There are many arguments for and against naive empiricism. Someone who subscribes to the philosophy may tell you that the goal of science is to uncover truth but that this cannot be accomplished when scientist's methods and interpretations are biased. Assumption causes scientists to arrive at some particular conclusion, which is justified by the experiment but still predetermined. Such conclusions cannot be said to be true becase assumption limits which possibilities are examined.

Naive Empiricism has been around for a very long time, and many arguments against the philosophy have developed. The rationale behind many of these arguments is that one must make some assumptions before any progress in study can be made. Assumptions don't have to be misleading or unfounded, but in order to study anything we must either make assumptions of some kind. If no such assumptions are made then science is limited to empirical observations which tell us little about how the world works. An entertaining work of fiction by a respected essayist, Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, the Memorious illustrates this position. (note: Funes, the Memorious was first published in Ficciones by Luis Borges and is available online in The Borges Collection at the University of Virginia Library)



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