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Questions tagged [empiricism]

Empiricism is the view that knowledge comes from sense experience.

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What did David Hume mean when he said that "reason is a slave to the passions"?

I don't understand the meaning of this oft-quoted quotation of Hume's in On Reason, namely his saying that "reason is a slave to the passions." What exactly does he mean by that ? Is it simply that ...
Uticensis's user avatar
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21 votes
14 answers
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What is a straight line?

I am not a philosopher; I am an engineer with a reasonable grasp of mathematics. This question has been bothering me for a long time, and I have asked a variation of it to a mathematical community. ...
MGA's user avatar
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17 votes
4 answers
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Is geometry mathematical or empirical?

Is Euclidean geometry a mathematical theory, or is it a theory of empirical science? If taking it to be a mathematical theory would it be due to having alternative geometries? If so, is it in some ...
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15 votes
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Is Hume's Fork self-refuting?

David Hume wrote: If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it ...
Ben's user avatar
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14 votes
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Was Aristotle an Empiricist?

When I was taught about Aristotle and Plato, the picture I got was very much like this image from a Raphael fresco: Usually Plato is said to be pointing to the heavens, which represent abstract Forms,...
Jon Ericson's user avatar
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12 votes
6 answers
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How empiricism and positivism is distinguished? What's their differences?

According to Wikipedia, Empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along ...
Sumit Roy's user avatar
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11 votes
10 answers
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How to not fear the supernatural? [closed]

I have post-traumatic stress disorder. Like many so afflicted, I interpreted the trauma as a form of punishment. I’m not religious, but my mind spontaneously invented an idiosyncratic deity in the ...
h_undatus's user avatar
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11 answers
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Does philosophy belong to empirical science or formal science?

According to Wikipedia, science can be divided into empirical science (such as natural science and social science) and formal science (such as mathematics, logic, statistics). I was wondering if ...
Tim's user avatar
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How is Bonjour's coherence theory of justification not just a version of foundationalism?

In presenting his coherence theory of justification BonJour appeals to what he calls the “Observation Requirement.” Bonjour’s observation requirement is the notion that there are some kinds of ...
Kevin Davis's user avatar
10 votes
6 answers
2k views

Is it possible that I see color differently?

Is it possible that I see color differently; for example what I call 'red' is 'blue' in your vision. Edited.. As we know the science of color, nothing is colored. Red is not "in" an apple. The ...
KMan's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
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Who said they were hiding in the woods?

In my undergraduate days, I remember reading someone occupying roughly a mental and historical space as David Hume (originally my thought was between Hume and Kuhn), and have a vaguely recalled ...
mfg's user avatar
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What did Wittgenstein mean by saying that the belief in the causal nexus is a superstition?

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittenstein says: 5.1361 The events of the future cannot be inferred from those of the present. Superstition is the belief in the causal nexus. I'm ...
k0pernikus's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
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What is Quine's rebuttal to Grice and Strawson's In Defense of Dogma?

In response to Quine's rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction, Strawson and Grice appear to reduce Quine's rejection (or skepticism) of synonymy to a rejection of meaning. What is/would be ...
nietsnegttiw's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
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What are the most basic assumptions one has to make in order to conduct science?

I often wondered: What are the most basic assumptions I have to make before I can even start thinking about life, universe and the rest? So far I have boiled them down to three: There is a world, a ...
k0pernikus's user avatar
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8 votes
6 answers
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Is there "empirical" distance without "mathematical" distance?

Mathematicians since antiquity have been thinking about length and angle, including doing things with straight-edges, rulers, compasses, and protractors. Fast-forward to modern physics, and you'll see ...
Galen's user avatar
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6 answers
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Does philosophy shed any light on how parties can fruitfully debate without an agreed source of truth?

A hallmark of recent political developments is extreme partisanship, where each side has near total distrust of the other. To exacerbate this situation there has been a breakdown in agreement over ...
Bob Tway's user avatar
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8 votes
4 answers
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Quine - two dogmas of empiricism

I'm trying to understand this paper. Seems to me like it all stems from a rejection of "meaning"... ie: Quine is saying statements don't mean anything. And this is what leads to the rejection of the ...
Ameet Sharma's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
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Did Gödel oppose or agree with the Logical Positivists?

Gödel was a member of the Vienna Circle, whose philosophical position as a group was Logical Positivism, or Logical Empiricism. The SEP article on him states that among his philosophical views were ...
Alexander S King's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
13k views

What is the contrast between Hume's and Locke's philosophies of science?

I'm writing an essay on Hume and was hoping to contrast his empiricism to Locke's in it. I have come across a commentary, which doesn't go into great depth; could someone explain it in a little ...
Maths That Imo's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
1k views

Can there be information without a "knower"?

I am trying to wrap my head around the principle of conservation of information as formulated by Leonard Susskind and others, which seems to me at first glance to be incompatible with the 2nd law of ...
Alexander S King's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
585 views

Does idealism allow for thought without any sensory input?

As I understand, idealism is the view that the mind is fundamental and the body as well as the world we perceive are just derivatives of the mind. Is this right? If so, if we had a hypothetical being,...
Eyob Tsegaye's user avatar
7 votes
7 answers
466 views

Explaining to my 11 year old why the question "Will robots ever have feelings" is part of philosophy, not science?

My 11 year old is tasked with interpreting a Seneca quote. I started out by trying to explain to him what ethics is by contrasting 'Will robots ever have feelings?' as a question in Philosophy of Mind,...
Alexander S King's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
571 views

Hume on infinity

I know Hume argued against dividing finite space into infinitely many regions, but I can't seem to find anything regarding his thoughts on infinity itself. From his Enquiry you sort of get that he ...
Andrei Buruntia's user avatar
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4 answers
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How did philosophy react to empirical psychology when there have been disagreements?

The very first laboratory in psychology was developed by Wundt, a professor of philosophy, in late 1800s. And indeed the early psychology seemed very close to armchair philosophy. Freud's theories ...
Jlente's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is there a contradiction between belief in causality and belief in the continued existence of matter?

In A Treatise of Human Nature, section 1.4.7 (the conclusion of part 1), Hume states that there are some circumstances in which belief in the continued existence of matter and the belief in cause and ...
NiallJG's user avatar
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6 votes
11 answers
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Can empiricism be found in any Eastern Philosophy/philosopher?

I was wondering if any Eastern philosophies/philosophers have adopted points of view similar to those found in the Western view of empiricism, that is (italic in the original SEP entry linked too): ...
Alexander S King's user avatar
6 votes
9 answers
2k views

Is mathematical truth empirical?

I’m inclined to think that if someone says mathematical truth is empirical, it would trivialize the meaning of “empirical”. For example, to say that we do not know a priori the answer to certain math ...
Julius Hamilton's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
7k views

Kant's refutation of empiricism

I have been told from numerous sources that Kant's arguments against empiricism basically "refuted" it, specifically the ones found in his "Critique of Pure Reason". Unfortunately, for me, reading ...
EleventyOne's user avatar
6 votes
6 answers
774 views

Does science provide the most accurate depiction of reality for analyzing and describing an accurate worldview?

I've been fighting throughout my philosophical reading with the question of the necessity of science as the only permitted view we (since the late 19th century) have on the world. My question might ...
Yechiam Weiss's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
613 views

What is the relationship between the scientific experimental method and the two espistemologies of empiricism and rationalism

What is the (historical and theoretical) relationship between the scientific experimental method and the two espistemologies of empiricism and rationalism? I can read here and there that the ...
Starckman's user avatar
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Understanding Sellars' The Myth of the Given rigorously

I understand the general view presented by Sellars in "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind". Yet, I can't get rigorously convinced. The main point is shown in part XIII, specifically in section 35. ...
Amit Hagin's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
411 views

What are the philosophical consequences of employing computers to do science and mathematics?

In recent years the steadily increasing computing capacity of computers has led to a lot of new areas in science. In most cases the computer is used to process huge sets of data which cannot possibly ...
Virft's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
2k views

How are empirical concepts acquired according to Kant?

In Critique of Pure Reason Kant describes in detail what aspects of our knowledge are a priori, and how they function, but on the empirical aspects he is sketchy and cryptic. Very briefly, our ...
Conifold's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
739 views

Does existentialism presuppose the supernatural?

When it comes to debates about the existence of an "all powerful all knowing god" believers and non-believers alike often times both agree that the existence of that god can't be scientifically or ...
Josh Miller's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
318 views

How do empiricists explain zeno's paradox(es)?

If Zeno seemed to prove our perceptions cannot be trusted, how, then, can/does an Empiricist justify faith in their perceptions? I'm looking for various solutions (or justifications in the face of the ...
NationWidePants's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
449 views

What did the Greeks call the "trial and error" reasoning process?

What did the Greeks call the "trial and error" reasoning process? Bruce Aune's review of Wilson's Peirce's Empiricism: Its Roots and Its Originality claims "The name 'empirici' is in fact traceable ...
Geremia's user avatar
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5 votes
5 answers
380 views

Can empiricists and materialists accept metaphysical modality?

There are some propositions such as 1+1=2 that seem to be true in all possible worlds. That is, there is no possible world in which 1+1=2 is not true. Propositions like this that seem to be true in ...
David Gudeman's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
445 views

Empiricism vs Irrationalism

Empiricists think that we should rely on our senses as a source of information but they also agree that using induction, and therefore reason as well, to make conclusions are reliable, whereas ...
Júlia Sirotiaková's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
751 views

Is Rand's Objectivism consequentialist/consequentially motivated?

Background (not looking to get into the weeds on this; just clarifying my viewpoint): It seems to me that the concept of a moral force or law is not really empirically supported. That is, statements ...
hunt's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
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Can a rationalist ever be a materialist?

Note that I am using rationalist in its strict philosophical sense, as in rationalist like Descartes or Leibniz, not rationalist as it might be understood colloquially. from the Encyclopedia ...
Alexander S King's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
287 views

How would Hume classify computer generated mathematical proofs?

Hume's fork divides knowledge of the world into: Analytic a priori: relations of ideas. Synthetic a posteriori: matters of fact, empirical statements about the world. How would Hume classify ...
Alexander S King's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
319 views

Are there any responses to Penelope Maddy's "Second Philosophy"?

I am finishing up reading Penelopy Maddy's [2007] "Second Philosophy". I really enjoy her flavor of naturalism. Like Quine, she justifies parts of mathematics because of its application. Unlike Quine, ...
Artem Kaznatcheev's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
235 views

Why is science treated as if it is entirely separate from philosophy? [duplicate]

A lot of people who I have spoken with in philosophy courses treat science as if it is completely separate from philosophy. Some scientists, like Stephen Hawking when he was still alive, seem to agree ...
Tyler Mc's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
346 views

In regards to Hume, do geometry, algebra and arithmetic form ideas that do not come from sense perceptions?

"The less forcible and lively are commonly denominated Thoughts or Ideas. The other species want a name in our language, and in most others; I suppose, because it was not requisite for any, but ...
Ghozt12's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
240 views

What is the origin of sense data?

Did Ayer and other sense data theorists believe that sense data are caused by the external world somehow? I don't know if this is supposed to be controversial, but I just don't see how you can deny ...
John Smith's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
3k views

How could Wittgenstein not rule out that there was a rhinoceros in the living room?

I read a graphic novel called "Logicomix" years ago and have wondered this ever since.
BigDataLouie's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
211 views

What is a mathematical or logical name for the process of proving a statement by exhausting the problem domain?

I am trying to understand logic and I came across a set of actions that I describe below that I can't get my head around. Suppose you have a bag of multiple colored balls. Situation 1. Argument: ...
Dirt's user avatar
  • 143
4 votes
2 answers
261 views

Thought experiments and empiricism

The debate between Norton and Brown regarding whether thought experiments transcend empiricism is interesting with Norton suggesting that thought experiments do not transcend empiricism. If one had ...
ADG's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
7k views

What is the difference between Aristotle and Locke's empiricism?

Both Aristotle and Locke are commonly viewed as empiricists. Indeed, both state roughly that "there is nothing in the intellect that is not first in the senses" and that "the mind is a blank slate". ...
Jos van Leeuwen's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
326 views

What did Hume and Russell have to say about atheists and morality?

I have heard Christian apologists argue that, since atheists view humans the same as other animals, they can therefore have no more of a moral compass than do animals. E.g., Greg Bahnsen argues this ...
Eva's user avatar
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