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In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas.

In the philosophy of science, empiricism is a theory of knowledge which emphasizes those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to experience, especially as formed through deliberate experimental arrangements. It is a fundamental requirement of 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. Hence, science is considered to be methodologically empirical in nature.

Philosophical view -- The doctrine of empiricism was first explicitly formulated by John Locke in the 17th century. Locke argued that the mind is a tabula rasa (""clean slate"" or ""blank tablet"") on which experiences leave their marks. Such empiricism denies that humans have innate ideas or that anything is knowable without reference to experience.

Scientific view -- 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 differentiated from the philosophic usage of empiricism by the use of the adjective ""empirical"" or the adverb ""empirically"". Empirical 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. The term semi-empirical is sometimes used to describe theoretical methods which make use of basic axioms, established scientific laws, and previous experimental results in order to engage in reasoned model building and theoretical inquiry.

Wikipedia contributors, ""Empiricism,"" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Empiricism&oldid=104334154 (accessed January 31, 2007).