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Empirical evidence: its nature and sources

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With the rise of evidence-based movements in medicine and social policy, the topic of evidence has come to the forefront of research in the philosophy and methodology of science. But the issue is far from new. Observation, experiment, induction and confirmation – all practises very closely related to evidence – have been central concerns of philosophers ever since the birth of Western philosophy. The primary aim of this article is to provide an introduction to and illumination of these topics in so far as they are relevant to the social sciences. Empirical evidence in the social sciences is extraordinarily varied. It is produced by methods including the collection of physical artefacts in archaeology, conducting censuses in demography, mathematical modelling in economics, thought experimentation in history, expert judgement in political science, laboratory experimentation in psychology and causal modelling in sociology, among many others. Even within one and the same science, evidence can have a variety of sources

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