British empiricists

Name applied primarily to John Locke (1632-1704), George Berkeley (1685-1753), and David Hume (1711-1776), with lesser figures such as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and Thomas Reid (1710-1796).

Also see: empiricism, subjective idealism, regulatory theory of causation, bundle theories, continental rationalists

In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience.[1] It is one of several views of epistemology, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasizes the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions.[2] However, empiricists may argue that traditions (or customs) arise due to relations of previous sense experiences.[3]

Historically, empiricism was associated with the “blank slate” concept (tabula rasa), according to which the human mind is “blank” at birth and develops its thoughts only through experience.[4]

Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasises evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.

Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that “knowledge is based on experience” and that “knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification”.[5] Empirical research, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides the scientific method.

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