Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Naturalism in philosophy demands that philosophical proposals exhibit a healthy respect for the methods and findings of the empirical sciences, especially when those proposals address the same domains those sciences do. In the twentieth century philosophers became a good deal more circumspect about their physical and biological speculations. If philosophy of science has not largely overshadowed metaphysics, then certainly science itself has become a fundamental constraint on credible metaphysical proposals. Instead of advancing grand metaphysical programs, many twentieth century philosophers have chosen to explore the broader implications of prevailing scientific theories and attempted to disentangle apparent conceptual snarls some seem to contain. The number of domains where philosophers must heed scientific developments has only increased as modern science has progressed. At the outset of the twenty-first century, philosophers who pronounce about matters of mind and language without regard to the cognitive sciences do so at their peril. Some philosophical naturalists suspect that Kripke=s pronouncements about the necessary properties of pains may suffer the same fate as Kant=s assurances about the a priori truth of Newtonian mechanics, Fichte=s insistence about the number of planets in our solar system, and Bergson=s presumptions about the basis of life. When scientific research generates innovative schemes that both systematically organize the pertinent phenomena and supply new explanatory and predictive insights, philosophers= declarations about what is imaginable or about what our concepts demand often appear quaint in retrospect. For the philosophical naturalist, little, if anything, distinguishes some legitimate philosophical endeavors from the theoretical speculations of scientists. Naturalists hold that philosophy enjoys no privilege. Typically, philosophers= only advantages arise from their wider views of things and their increased sensitivities to the structures and strengths of arguments. Certainly, philosophers= guesses are as good as anyone=s, and, given that they are a comparatively intelligent lot, often their guesses are better..|
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