To what extent is rationalism a more effective way of knowing than empiricism?

   Rationalism and empiricism could be said to be at either end of a ‘way of knowing’ spectrum – one relies on the senses whilst the other uses logic and reasoning to determine what is true.

   One of the main arguments against empiricism is the fact that our senses can be easily deceived.  For example, experiments conducted with fruit flavour squash have shown that it was easier for the subjects to identify the correct flavour when the drink had the expected colour. People made errors toward the taste that was expected for a particular colour - an orange-coloured drink that was really cherry-flavoured was often thought to taste like orange; a green coloured cherry drink would taste like lime.

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   In essence, we receive what we expect to receive from our senses.  In addition to this, physical faults can affect how or what we interpret through our sensory organs: myopias, deafness, even just wearing gloves – all these restrict our senses and can lead us to come to conclusions based on what we think we know.

   This can lead to problems when we encounter a problem that does not make sense if we rely on our sight or hearing alone.  A classic example of this would be optical illusions such as ‘The Elephant with Five Legs’ or ‘The ...

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