Agile vs Waterfall? or Empiricism vs. Rationalism?


Dear Agilists,

I would like to propose a more philosophical theme for a podcast.

We keep talking about Agile, about Waterfall and the differences in-between. To me, this is very similar to the dispute between Rationalism (Descartes, Leibnitz, Spinoza) and Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume) about the extent to which we are dependent upon sense experience in our effort to gain knowledge. Rationalists claim that there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience. Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge.

Steven West at has an interesting series of podcasts on this topic and would be very interesting to have a cross-over podcast of my favourite 2 podcasts.

What do you think?



I’m in. And always up for a philosophical humdinger of a challenge.

That said, I have no idea what I’d say… :slight_smile:

Gil Broza has a nice hand out of the belief systems behind both mindsets:

agile and waterfall values and principles.pdf (1.7 MB)

Maybe time to reread that…

Mid March for recording?



About the rationalism vs. empiricism dispute, you can read more here.

I think the big discussion to have is around how we gain knowledge while developing a product.



@Bogdan_Onaca you write the agenda, we’ll schedule a session and convene a panel. You lead off and we have a dialog…how’s that sound?

Anybody else want in on this episode? We have to cap it at four (4) attendees as any more than that gets muddy…


Probably beyond my ken, but I’m looking forward to hearing it.



I wasn’t thinking I could be leading this, but why not? Let me try to get in touch with Steven West first to see how he would feel about a cross-over episode.