Posted: February 15th, 2022

Underwaterwriting: from theory to empiricism






3) Explain the basic components of empiricism. This answer should include an explanation of empirical and inferential beliefs and the case for why empiricism seems like such an attractive and intuitive theory. Explain the problem of induction and why empiricism faces such a crucial dilemma. This explanation should include an understanding of David Hume’s argument for why there is no proof of uniformity in nature. Do you think empiricism can overcome this problem, or is it dead in the water? Why or why not?  

 Empiricism is a theory that implies that the origin of all knowledge is in a sense. This theory dictates that human knowledge primarily originates from experiences collected from the five senses. Empiricism is used in science to point out the use of experiences in gathering evidence to ensure that there is a proper application of theories in real-world observations and that the evidence is recorded as empirical data. 

The notion of empiricism holds that all knowledge originates in sensory experience. It stresses the importance of experience and evidence informing ideas, particularly sensory perception, and claims that humans can only have ex post facto knowledge. This is based on experience (Daston, 2021). In addition, most empiricists dismiss the premise of innate theoretical foundations. This is the notion that the mind is born of ideas and knowledge, and therefore it is not a blank at birth.

Induction or inductive reasoning (creating generalizations based on particular experiences) must be utilized to develop a more complicated knowledge base from these observational data. As a result, this type of knowledge is also referred to as passive empirical knowledge (Keenan & Bradt, 2020). Empiricism is opposed to Rationalism, which holds that the intellect may intuitively comprehend some realities without the use of the senses.

Empirical and Inferential Beliefs

Empirical beliefs focus on the importance of empirical evidence in the creation of ideas rather than believing in innate ideas and concepts. Empirical beliefs are scientific in nature; they can be proved through observation and experiences (Sadiq et al., 2018). In philosophy, empiricism is the belief that all concepts are born of experience and that all ideas are related to objects that can be observed or experienced. Empirical beliefs also mean that reasonably accepted views or claims can only be justified or recognized through experience.

Most empiricists believe that all conceptions are either mental “copies” of directly experienced objects or complicated mixes of concepts that are copies of directly experienced items. This approach is associated with the idea that a concept’s application circumstances must always be described in terms of experience (Daston, 2021). Empiricism frequently challenges authority, intuitive, inventive hypothesis, and abstract, philosophical, or methodical reasoning as sources of valid opinion, emphasizing experience.

Inferential beliefs are based on information from outside sources. These beliefs are formed through the use of previously formed relationships (Keenan & Bradt, 2020). These beliefs are therefore formed through accepting information from external sources. 

Empiricism seems like an attractive and intuitive theory because it allows theories to be observed and further tested to be accepted and considered accurate. Empiricism is, therefore, important for ensuring that there is increased accuracy of theories and hypotheses (Lustick & Tetlock, 2021). Empiricists beliefs imply that knowledge is only possible through experience. Such beliefs, therefore, are important in encouraging the use of experiences in proving hypotheses before theories can be adopted.

Empiricism is important also for teaching purposes since experiences are said to be the best teacher. Through the use of experiences, an individual’s ability to learn is enhanced. The ability to offer to teach to other individuals is also enhanced through the use of empiricism. Because ideas and hypotheses must be observed and evaluated to be regarded accurate, empiricism is a fundamental aspect of the scientific method (Sadiq et al., 2018). Empiricists are sceptics who believe that nothing can be known for definite, and hence they do not believe in belief systems or comprehensive and accurate. 

On the other hand, rationalists think that the cosmos has absolute laws that can be determined and that the human mind is naturally equipped to perceive specific facts. Empiricism is a theoretical notion that individuals understanding of the world is dependent on their experiences, especially the sensory experiences (Lustick & Tetlock, 2021). Individuals learning is based on observations and perceptions. According to empiricists, knowledge is impossible without experience.

The problem of induction lies in asking the wrong question. It entails asking for the justification of theories, knowing that theories cannot be justified by induction. Individuals generally think that the observations they have previously made are able to make justifications for some expectations or assumptions about observations that have not yet been made (Lustick & Tetlock, 2021). People also think that the previous observations can be used on general claims beyond what was observed.

The distinction between concepts and impressions is the starting point for Hume’s appraisal of the components of the sensory experience. When compared to concepts, which are thought to be feeble pictures of these in terms of thinking and reasoning, impressions, which include all individual’s sensations and passions, are somehow forceful and vibrant (Keenan & Bradt, 2020). Concepts are always philosophically weak to perceptions. Hume’s supplementary condition stands in stark contrast to a long tradition in Western thought that states that universal ideas, not unique sense perceptions, are the operative subjects of the human power of reason. Hume, like Locke, distinguishes between complicated and simple empiricism.

The most well-known aspect of Hume’s argument is the relationship between cause and effect. Western scientists and philosophers have long held the belief that in order to comprehend anything fully, one must first understand the cause on which it is predicated. Such knowledge, according to Hume, is not feasible (Sadiq et al., 2018). The causal relationship, according to Hume, provides the foundation for all reasoning or thinking about the elements of fact; nevertheless, unlike the relationships of concepts studied by mathematics, no judgements about matters of fact are necessarily accurate. This is due to the fact that humans can always conjure up mental images without difficulty.

 According to Hume, individuals cannot think of any other relationship between cause and effect. This is because there is no other impression to which individuals can trace their conceptions (Daston, 2021). All that is left is a certainty. Empiricism cannot overcome this problem because the uniformities that have been observed in the past will still hold to the current and to the future.




Daston, L. (2021). Ground-zero empiricism. Critical Inquiry47(S2), S55-S57.

Keenan, J. M., & Bradt, J. T. (2020). Underwaterwriting: from theory to empiricism in regional mortgage markets in the US. Climatic Change162(4), 2043-2067.

Lustick, I. S., & Tetlock, P. E. (2021). The simulation manifesto: The limits of brute‐force empiricism in geopolitical forecasting. Futures & Foresight Science, e64. DOI/abs/10.1002/ffo2.64

Sadiq, S., Dasu, T., Dong, X. L., Freire, J., Ilyas, I. F., Link, S., … & Srivastava, D. (2018). Data quality: The role of empiricism. ACM SIGMOD Record46(4), 35-43.


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