Difference between Observation, Theory and Law

Key Difference: In philosophy of science, observation, theory and law, all play important roles. Observation is generally regarded as an act to sense the external real objects. Sense organs play a vital role in the observation. Theory can be described as a scientific explanation of an observed activity or a phenomenon. It explains the observations or events that are based upon any proven hypothesis. A law is a description of an observed phenomenon or activity. It is generally regarded as a statement of fact.

An observation is considered to be an act to sense the external objects. An observation is regarded to be free of any pre-held assumption. Therefore, it is rarely objective. The term observation is generally used in context to information gathering.

Theory is the explanatory version of the facts and accounts for the observations. Theory is considered to contain the knowledge and explanatory concepts. It is accompanied by reasonable explanation or facts. Thus, considerable evidence is very important for formulating any kind of theory.

A law describes what nature does under certain conditions and also predicts the outcome as long as the conditions are met. It is also referred to as a statement of fact that is accepted as the absolute truth. It is based on the generalized principle that appears to be true at the time it was made or formulated, without any exception. It is important to mention that even laws may be challenged in the future.

Some of the differences are listed below:-






Details of the resulting perceptual experience.

Coherent, systematic, predictive, and broadly applicable.

Short and true. Generally, expressed in a single expression.


Focus on behavior

No manipulation with the observed entity

Accurate noting of the phenomenon

Basic method of information gathering

Scientific or non- scientific in nature

Internally consistent and compatible with the evidence

Firmly grounded in and based upon evidence

Tested against a wide range of phenomena

Demonstrably effective in problem-solving

Applied under the same conditions.

Scientific laws are empirical truths.

Laws are generally universally accepted.


  1. A scientist looking at a chemical reaction in an experiment
  2. A doctor watching a patient after administering an injection
  1. The theory of evolution
  2. The heliocentric theory of the solar system
  1. Law of conservation of mass-energy
  2. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics


Useful in establishment and confirmation of a Hypothesis

Very broad applications and explanatory power.

General Universal Acceptance


Basis of formulation of questions and answers.

Explains the answer to question like- why things are the way they are.

Description of result of repeated observation. So, can be just answer the description related to the result of repeated observations.

Image Courtesy: blockpub.com, docstoc.com, abyss.uoregon.edu

Most Searched in Sports Most Searched in Environment
Most Searched in Beauty and Style Most Searched in Home and Garden
Galaxy vs Solar System
Borderline vs Sociopath
Nokia Lumia 925 vs HTC One


very good article. life is based on diffrences and opposites of each phenomena.

Add new comment

Plain text

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.