At some stage in it's development, any field of intellectual discussion or scientific speculation may reach a point at which it begins to generate large numbers of "empirical" questions, that is, questions whose answers must refer to carefully documented observations, or even to controlled experiments. In physics, this happened most strikingly in the course of the seventeenth century; in biology, the comparable stage was not reached until around 1770, rising to its peak in the course of the nineteenth century (Toulmin, 1972; Toulmin & Goodfield, 1962); whereas in psychology, it has become customary-though a trifle arbitrary-to argue that this happened just one hundred years ago, with the establishment of Wilhelm Wundt's pioneer psychological laboratory in Leipzig in 1879.
Copyright © 1985 McGraw-Hill. This chapter first appeared in A Century of Psychology as Science.
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Toulmin, Stephen, and David E. Leary. "The Cult of Empiricism in Psychology, and Beyond." In A Century of Psychology as Science, edited by Sigmund Koch and David E. Leary, 594-617. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985.