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In the context of current debate concerning modes of inquiry, this paper addresses the role of empiricism in nursing science. The author argues that, while not the only valid perspective, empiricism should remain a dominant perspective in nursing research because many of the questions we need to study are consistent with this view. This stance does not invalidate important philosophic and methodologic challenges facing empiricism or the unique contributions of other perspectives. Instead, the challenge to researchers in the empiricist tradition is to refine methodologic and analytic skills in order to increase the ability to capture the objective reality that is assumed to be measurable even in the social and behavioral sciences. Nursing research efforts have tended not to exploit the full range of empiric investigation. Until such programs of research have been conducted, it is premature to make judgments about how well empiricism has served nursing.