A central concept in
scienceand the scientific methodis that all evidencemust be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observableby the senses. Empirical data are datathat are produced by experimentor observation. [ [http://www.bartleby.com/61/71/E0117100.html "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition"] . Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.] It is usually differentiated from the philosophic usage of empiricismby 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 testableusing observationor 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 deductiveand based on first principles.
statistics, "empirical" quantities are those computed from observed values, as opposed to those derived from theoretical considerations.
economics, "empirical" generally refers to statistical or econometric analysis of numeric data. Other forms of observation-based hypothesis testing are not considered to be "empirics."
The use of the adjective empirical, especially in scientific studies using
statistics, may also indicate that a particular correlationbetween two parameters has been found, but that so far, no theory for the mechanism of the connection is known.
In Chemistry the term empirical is used to refer to a molecular formula in its lowest common terms found in terms of element proportions and molar masses.y
Empiricism(Philosophic usage and history)
Empirical research(More on the scientific usage)
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