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Empirical evidence that is observable by the senses.


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A central concept in science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence that is observable by the senses. It is usually differentiated from the philosophic usage of empiricism by the use of the adjective "empirical" or the adverb "empirically." "Empirical" as an adjective or adverb is used in conjunction with both the natural and social sciences, and refers to the use of working hypotheses that are testable using observation or experiment. In this sense of the word, scientific statements are subject to and derived from our experiences or observations.

In a second sense "empirical" in science may be synonymous with "experimental." In this sense, an empirical result is an experimental observation. In this context, the term semi-empirical is used for qualifying theoretical methods which 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.

Empirical does not refer to empires (e.g. Roman Empire); it is sometimes used in history books erroneously.




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