Naturalism is the label for the thesis that the tools we should use in answering philosophical problems are the methods and findings of the mature sciences—from physics across to biology and increasingly neuroscience. It enables us to rule out answers to philosophical questions that are incompatible with scientific findings. It enables us to rule out epistemological pluralism—that the house of knowledge has many mansions, as well as skepticism about the reach of science. It bids us doubt that there are (...) facts about reality that science cannot grasp. It gives us confidence to assert that by now in the development of science, absence of evidence is prima facie good grounds for evidence of absence: this goes for God, and a great deal else. (shrink)
In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodologicalnaturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of (...) the supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative. We will discuss five arguments that have been proposed in support of IMN: the argument from the definition of science, the argument from lawful regularity, the science stopper argument, the argument from procedural necessity, and the testability argument. We conclude that IMN, because of its philosophical flaws, proves to be an ill-advised strategy to counter the claims of IDC. Evolutionary scientists are on firmer ground if they discard supernatural explanations on purely evidential grounds, instead of ruling them out by philosophical fiat. (shrink)
This paper rejects a view of science called "methodologicalnaturalism." -/- According to many defenders of mainstream science and Darwinian evolution, anti-evolution critics--creationists and intelligent design proponents--are conceptually and epistemologically confusing science and religion, a supernatural view of world. These defenders of evolution contend that doing science requires adhering to a methodology that is strictly and essentially naturalistic: science is essentially committed to "methodologicalnaturalism" and assumes that all the phenomena it investigates are entirely natural and (...) consistent with the laws of physics. Thus encountering any unexplained phenomenon, science assumes a priori that there is some natural cause and will only test a natural hypothesis. Since by definition supernatural causes are assumed to be not subject to the constraints of physical or natural law as understood by science, supernatural hypotheses and explanations must be banned from proper science. Science simply can't say that God did, or did not do it. -/- I argue that the success of science is directly relevant to rational belief in supernatural causes, and that in fact science can and does say in particular cases that "God didn't do it." I suggest that pro-evolution proponents can better defend science and the theory of evolution by rejecting methodologicalnaturalism. -/- . (shrink)
Three proponents of the Canberra Plan, namely Jackson, Pettit, and Smith, have developed a collective functionalist program—Canberra Functionalism—spanning from philosophical psychology to ethics. They argue that conceptual analysis is an indispensible tool for research on cognitive processes since it reveals that there are some folk concepts, like belief and desire, whose functional roles must be preserved rather than eliminated by future scientific explanations. Some naturalists have recently challenged this indispensability argument, though the point of that challenge has been blunted by (...) a mutual conflation of metaphysical and methodological strands of naturalism. I argue that the naturalist’s challenge to the indispensability argument, like naturalism itself, ought to be reformulated as a strictly methodological thesis. So understood, the challenge succeeds by showing (1) that we cannot know a priori on the basis of conceptual analysis of folk platitudes that something must occupy the functional roles specified for beliefs and desires, and (2) that proponents of Canberra Functionalism sometimes tacitly concede this point by treating substantive psychological theories as the deliverances of a priori platitudes analysis. (shrink)
The philosophical doctrine of methodologicalnaturalism holds that, for any study of the world to qualify as "scientific," it cannot refer to God's creative activity (or any sort of divine activity). The methods of science, it is claimed, "give us no purchase" on theological propositions--even if the latter are true--and theology therefore cannot influence scientific explanation or theory justification. Thus, science is said to be religiously neutral, if only because science and religion are, by their very natures, epistemically (...) distinct. However, the actual practice and content of science challenge this claim. In many areas, science is anything but religiously neutral; moreover, the standard arguments for methodologicalnaturalism suffer from various grave shortcomings. [This is the first part of a two-part article.]. (shrink)
In response to the charge that methodologicalnaturalism in science logically requires the a priori adoption of a naturalistic metaphysics, I examine the question whether methodologicalnaturalism entails philosophical (ontological or metaphysical) naturalism. I conclude that the relationship between methodological and philosophical naturalism, while not one of logical entailment, is the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion given (1) the demonstrated success of methodologicalnaturalism, combined with (2) the massive amount of knowledge gained (...) by it, (3) the lack of a method or epistemology for knowing the supernatural, and (4) the subsequent lack of evidence for the supernatural. The above factors together provide solid grounding for philosophical naturalism, while supernaturalism remains little more than a logical possibility. (shrink)
So why must a scientist proceed in accordance with methodologicalnaturalism? Michael Ruse suggests that methodologicalnaturalism or at any rate part of it is true by definition: Furthermore, even if Scientific Creationism were totally successful in making its case as science, it would not yield a scientific explanation of origins. Rather, at most, it could prove that science shows that there can be no scientific explanation of origins. The Creationists believe that the world started miraculously. (...) But miracles lie outside of science, which by definition deals only with the natural, the repeatable, that which is governed by law.37 By definition of the term 'science' one supposes; Ruse apparently holds there is a correct definition of 'science', such that from the definition it follows that science deals only with what is natural, repeatable, and governed by law. (Note that this claim doesn't bear on the suggestions that a Christian scientist can propose hypotheses involving such 'religious' doctrines as, say, original sin, and can evaluate the epistemic probability of a scientific hypothesis relative to background belief.. (shrink)
According to Theodore Schick, Jr., Eugenie C. Scott’s endorsement of methodologicalnaturalism---roughly, the view that science is limited by its methodology to be neutral vis-à-vis the supernatural---is misguided. He offers three arguments; I contend that none is successful.
Methodologicalnaturalism is the assumption or working hypothesis that understanding nature (the physical world including humans and their thoughts and actions) can be understood in terms of unguided laws. There is no need to Suppose interventions (miracles) from outside. It does not commit one to metaphysical naturalism, the belief that there is nothing other than nature as we can see and observe it (in other words, that atheism is the right theology for the sound thinker). Recently the (...) Intelligent Design movement has been arguing against methodologicalnaturalism, and in this project they have been joined by the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. In this paper I examine Plantinga’s arguments and conclude not only that they are not well taken, but that he does no good service to his religion either. (shrink)
Intelligent Design proponents consistently deny that science is rightfully governed by the norm of methodologicalnaturalism—that independent of one’s actual metaphysical commitments regarding the natural/supernatural, a scientist, qua scientist, must behave as if the world is constituted by the natural, material world. This essay works to develop more fully a pragmatic justification for methodologicalnaturalism, one that focuses on a number of key elements found in 17th and 18th century embryology.
The compatibility of Darwinism with religious beliefs has been the subject of vigorous debate from 1859 to the present day. Darwin himself did not think that there was any incompatibility between his theory of natural selection and the existence of God. However, he did not think that appeals to the direct or indirect activity of a Creator substantially increased our understanding of any natural phenomenon. In effect, Darwin endorsed what we would today label as ’methodologicalnaturalism,’ roughly the (...) view that the only legitimate elements of the explanation of natural phenomena must appeal only to natural processes, natural laws and natural regularities. In section 2, Darwin’s commitment to methodological Darwinism is documented. Section 3 addresses the question of whether methodologicalnaturalism does or does not rule out belief in a divine Creator. Section 4 raises the question of whether methodological naturalists are also metaphysical naturalists. Finally, section 5 assesses the. (shrink)
This essay argues that philosophical naturalists who draw epistemic support from science for their worldview ought to set aside methodologicalnaturalism in certain historical sciences. When linked to methodologicalnaturalism, philosophical naturalism opens itself to several problems. Specifically, when joined with methodologicalnaturalism, philosophical naturalism can 'never' be scientifically disconfirmed but will nearly 'always' be confirmed, no matter what the empirical evidence. Theistic-friendly "God hypotheses," on the other hand, can 'never' be scientifically (...) confirmed -- again, no matter what the evidence -- but are routinely said to be disconfirmed. Methodologicalnaturalism not only leads to this self-serving dynamic, but does not appear to serve a meaningful epistemic purpose in the contest between philosophical naturalism and theism and so, for these reasons, ought to be set aside. (shrink)
Abstract: This article presents and solves a puzzle about methodologicalnaturalism. Trumping naturalism is the thesis that we must accept p if science sanctions p, and biconditional naturalism the apparently stronger thesis that we must accept p if and only if science sanctions p. The puzzle is generated by an apparently cogent argument to the effect that trumping naturalism is equivalent to biconditional naturalism. It turns out that the argument for this equivalence is subtly (...) question-begging. The article explains this and shows more generally that there are no scientific arguments for biconditional naturalism. (shrink)
Epistemic naturalism holds that the results or methodologies from the cognitive sciences are relevant to epistemology, and some have maintained that scientific methods are more compatible with externalist theories of justification than with internalist theories. But practically all discussions about naturalized epistemology are framed exclusively in terms of cognitive psychology, which is only one of the cognitive sciences. The question addressed in this essay is whether a commitment to naturalism really does favor externalism over internalism, and we offer (...) reasons for thinking that naturalism in epistemology is compatible with both internalist and externalist conceptions of justification. We also argue that there are some distinctively internalist aims that are currently being studied scientifically and these notions, and others, should be studied by scientific methods. (shrink)
According to Eugenie Scott, methodological materialism---the view that science attempts to explain the world using material processes---does not imply philosophical materialism---the view that all that exists are material processes. Thus one can consistently be both a scientist and a theist. According to Phillip Johnson, however, methodological materialism presupposes philosophical materialism. Consequently, scientists are unable to see the cogency of supernatural explanations, like creationism. I argue that both Scott and Johnson are wrong: scientists are not limited to explaining tbe (...) world using material processes and science does not presuppose materialism. Thus scientists’ rejection of creationism is not irrational. (shrink)
This is an unpublished talk written for a meeting of French philosophers. The paper describes the evolution versus creationism/intelligent design controversy in the U.S. A number of philosophers and scientists try to resolve this issue by sharply distinguishing the realm of science versus any talk of the supernatural. These pro-evolutionists often appeal to science's essential commitment to "methodologicalnaturalism," the view that scientific methodology is essentially committed to naturalism and cannot meaningfully entertain hypotheses concerning the supernatural. I (...) criticize methodologicalnaturalism, suggesting that such an appeal is misguided and counterproductive. I suggest an alternative view of the supernatural consistent with scientific knowledge. (shrink)
There is overwhelming agreement amongst naturalists that a naturalistic ontology should not allow for the possibility of supernatural entities. I argue, against this prevailing consensus, that naturalists have no proper basis to oppose the existence of supernatural entities. Naturalism is characterized, following Leiter and Rea, as a position which involves a primary commitment to scientific methodology and it is argued that any naturalistic ontological commitments must be compatible with this primary commitment. It is further argued that properly applied scientific (...) method has warranted the acceptance of the existence of supernatural entities in the past and that it is plausible to think that it will do so again in the future. So naturalists should allow for the possibility of supernatural entities. (shrink)
A remarkable but little studied aspect of current evolutionary theory is the use by many biologists and philosophers of theological arguments for evolution. These can be classed under two heads: imperfection arguments, in which some organic design is held to be inconsistent with God's perfection and wisdom, and homology arguments, in which some pattern of similarity is held to be inconsistent with God's freedom as an artificer. Evolutionists have long contended that the organic world falls short of what one might (...) expect from an omnipotent and benevolent creator. Yet many of the same scientists who argue theologically for evolution are committed to the philosophical doctrine of methodologicalnaturalism, which maintains that theology has no place in science. Furthermore, the arguments themselves are problematical, employing concepts that cannot perform the work required of them, or resting on unsupported conjectures about suboptimality. Evolutionary theorists should reconsider both the arguments and the influence of Darwinian theological metaphysics on their understanding of evolution. (shrink)
In a recent exchange, John Worrall and Larry Laudan have debated the merits of the model of rational scientific change proposed by Laudan in his book Science and Values. On the model advocated by Laudan, rational change may take place at the level of scientific theory and methodology, as well as at the level of the epistemic aims of science. Moreover, the rationality of a change which occurs at any one of these three levels may be dependent on considerations at (...) the remaining levels. Yet, in spite of the avowedly anti-relativistic motivation of Laudan's model, Worrall criticizes Laudan for irrevocably relativizing scientific rationality to historically variant methodological standards. (shrink)
In this essay, I criticize Laudan's view that methodological rules in science are best understood as hypothetical imperatives, for example, to realize cognitive aim A, follow method B. I criticize his idea that such rules are best evaluated by a naturalized philosophy of science which collects the empirical evidence bearing on the soundness of these rules. My claim is that this view yields a poor explanation of (1) the role of methodological rules in establishing the rationality of scientific (...) practices, (2) the debates scientists have over rival methodological rules, and (3) the reasons on the basis of which scientists actually embrace, challenge, or transform methodological rules. A better explanation is provided by treating at least some methodological rules as foundational standards of theory-appraisal which define the criteria of scientific truth, knowledge, evidence, proof, explanations, etc., for a certain tradition or community of scientific practice. Such standards are in turn grounded or challenged on the basis of their coherence or incoherence with a wider body of scientific judgments. This view leads away from a naturalized philosophy of science back to its more classical epistemological conception. (shrink)
There are two chief tasks which confront the philosophy of scientific method. The first task is to specify the methodology which serves as the objective ground for scientific theory appraisal and acceptance. The second task is to explain how application of this methodology leads to advance toward the aim(s) of science. In other words, the goal of the theory of method is to provide an integrated explanation of both rational scientific theory choice and scientific progress.
Phillip Johnson claims that Creationism is a better explanation of the existence and characteristics of biological species than is evolutionary theory. He argues that the only reason biologists do not recognize that Creationist's negative arguments against Darwinism have proven this is that they are wedded to a biased ideological philosophy —Naturalism — which dogmatically denies the possibility of an intervening creative god. However,Johnson fails to distinguish Ontological Naturalism from MethodologicalNaturalism. Science makes use of the latter (...) and I show how it is not dogmatic but follows from sound requirements for empirical evidential testing. Furthermore, Johnson has no serious alternative type of positive evidence to offer for Creationism, and purely negative argumentation, despite his attempt to legitimate it, will not suffice. (shrink)
In traditional armchair methodology, philosophers attempt to challenge a thesis of the form ‘F iff G’ or ‘F only if G’ by describing a scenario that elicits the intuition that what has been described is an F that isn’t G. If they succeed, then the judgment that there is, or could be, an F that is not G counts as good prima facie evidence against the target thesis. Moreover, if these intuitions remain compelling after further (good faith) reflection, then traditional (...) armchair methodology takes the judgment to be serious (though not infallible) evidence against the target thesis—call it secunda facie evidence—that should not be discounted as long as those intuitions retain their force. Some philosophers, however, suggest that this methodology is incompatible with epistemological naturalism, the view that philosophical inquiry should be sensitive to empirical observations, and argue that traditional armchair methodology must deemphasize the role of intuitions in philosophical inquiry. In my view, however, this would be a mistake: as I will argue, the most effective way to promote philosophical progress is to treat intuitions as having the (prima and secunda) evidential status I’ve described. But I will also argue that philosophical inquiry can produce a theory that is sensitive to empirical observations and the growth of empirical knowledge, even if it gives intuitions the prima- and secunda-facie evidential status that traditional armchair methodology demands—and thus that traditional armchair methodology, if properly practiced, need not be abandoned by naturalists, or even (except for a few exceptions) be much revised. (shrink)
The nature of the distinction between rational andnon-rational accounts of the development of science isanalyzed. These two kinds of accounts differ mostlyin the status which they give to methodologicalprinciples. It is shown that there are severaldimensions with respect to which the status of suchprinciples can resemble more or less the kind ofstatus that a paradigmatic rational account would givethem. It is concluded that, under the most plausibledefinitions of a rational account, the extent to whicha philosophical account of scientific change isrational (...) is a matter of degree, and that there is nosuch clear distinction between the two kinds ofaccounts which some supporters of rational and ofnon-rational accounts have assumed to exist. (shrink)
In this paper I address some shortcomings in Larry Laudan's normative naturalism. I make it clear that Laudan's rejection of the "meta-methodology thesis", or MMT is unnecessary, and that a reformulated version MMT can be sustained. I contend that a major difficulty that attends Laudan's account is his contention that a naturalistic philosophy of science cannot accommodate any a priori justification of methodological rules, and consider what sort of naturalism might best replace Laudan's. To do this, I (...) discuss Michael Friedman's account of a relativised a priori and show that it is consistent with naturalistic philosophy of science and that it can help form the basis of a plausible normative naturalism. In particular, this Discussion shows that Laudan's rejection of any a priori justification of methodological rules is unjustified and inconsistent with scientific practice. Finally, I point the way to a version of normative naturalism that includes MMT and accounts for the role of constitutive a priori principles within science. (shrink)
Abstract Artificial language philosophy (also called ‘ideal language philosophy’) is the position that philosophical problems are best solved or dissolved through a reform of language. Its underlying methodology—the development of languages for specific purposes—leads to a conventionalist view of language in general and of concepts in particular. I argue that many philosophical practices can be reinterpreted as applications of artificial language philosophy. In addition, many factually occurring interrelations between the sciences and philosophy of science are justified and clarified by the (...) assumption of an artificial language methodology. Content Type Journal Article Category Original paper in Philosophy of Science Pages 1-23 DOI 10.1007/s13194-011-0042-6 Authors Sebastian Lutz, Theoretical Philosophy Unit, Utrecht University, Postbus 80126, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912. (shrink)
The central aim of this essay is to put forward a notion of naturalism that broadly aligns with pragmatism. I do so by outlining my views on natural kinds and my account of concepts, which I have defended in recent publications (Brigandt 2009, in press-b). Philosophical accounts of both natural kinds and concepts are usually taken to be metaphysical endeavours, which attempt to develop a theory of the nature of natural kinds (as objectively existing entities of the world) or (...) of the nature of concepts (as objectively existing mental entities). However, I shall argue that any account of natural kinds or concepts must answer to epistemological questions as well and will offer a both pragmatist and naturalistic defence of my views on natural kinds and concepts. Many philosophers conceive of naturalism as a primarily metaphysical doctrine, such as a commitment to a physicalist ontology or the idea that humans and their intellectual and moral capacities are a part of nature. Sometimes such legitimate views motivate a more contentious philosophical program that maintains that any philosophical notion ought to be defined in a purely physicalist vocabulary (e.g., by putting forward a theory of concepts and intentional states that does not define them in terms of intentional notions). We will see that I reject this latter project (which is naturalistic in some sense) on naturalistic grounds, as science does not aim at developing reductive definitions. Rather than naturalism as a metaphysical doctrine, more germane to my account is a methodological type of naturalism. Here the idea is that some aspects of scientific method and practice should be used by philosophers in their attempts to develop philosophical accounts. I will illustrate this naturalistic method by laying out how philosophers can and ought to develop philosophical notions without Ingo Brigandt 2.. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophy’s three main naturalisms are methodological, ontological and epistemological. Methodologicalnaturalism states that the only authoritative standards are those of science. Ontological and epistemological naturalism respectively state that all entities and all valid methods of inquiry are in some sense natural. In philosophy of mathematics of the past few decades methodologicalnaturalism has received the lion’s share of the attention, so we concentrate on this. Ontological and epistemological naturalism in the philosophy of (...) mathematics are discussed more briefly in section 6. (shrink)
Introduction -- Direct realism. An introduction to direct realism : the views of D.M. Armstrong -- The representationalism of Dretske, Tye, and Lycan -- Searle's naturalism and the prospects for knowledge -- Philosophy as science : neuroscience, neurophilosophy, and naturalized epistemology. Cognitive science, philosophy, and our knowledge of reality, pt. 1. The views of David Papineau -- Cognitive science, philosophy, and our knowledge of reality, pt. 2. The views of Daniel Dennett -- Can the Churchlands' neurocomputational theory cognition ground (...) a viable epistemology? (by Errin Clark) -- Other alternatives, and naturalism's future. Other proposals : Pollock's internalism, Kim's functionalism (with Peggy Burke), and more externalist considerations -- The future directions of naturalism -- A positive case for our knowledge of reality -- Methodologicalnaturalism and the scientific method, and other implications. (shrink)
Pragmatism’s naturalism is inconsistent with the phenomenological tradition’s anti-naturalism. This poses a problem for the methodological consistency of phenomenological work in the pragmatist tradition. Solutions such as phenomenologizing naturalism or naturalizing phenomenology have been proposed, but they fail. As a consequence, pragmatists and other naturalists must answer the phenomenological tradition’s criticisms of naturalism.
This paper revisits one of the key ideas developed in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In particular, it explores the methodological form of incommensurability which may be found in the original edition of Structure. It is argued that such methodological incommensurability leads to a form of epistemic relativism. In later work, Kuhn moved away from the original idea of methodological incommensurability with his idea of a set of epistemic values that provides a basis for rational theory choice, (...) but do not constitute an algorithm for such choice. The paper also explores the sceptical basis for the epistemic relativism of the original view that Kuhn proposes in Structure. It suggests that the main sceptical rationale for such relativism may be avoided by a particularist and naturalist conception of epistemic normativity. When this approach is combined with the appeal to external methodological standards endorsed by the later Kuhn and his critics, the epistemic relativism of Structure may be completely repudiated. (shrink)
Nonreductive naturalism holds that we can preserve the (scientifically valued) metaphysical truth of physicalism while averting the methodological mistakes of reductionism. Acceptable scientificexplanation need not (in some cases cannot and in many cases, should not) be formulated in the language of physical science. Persuasive arguments about the properties of phenomenal consciousnesspurport to show that physicalism is false, namely that phenomenal experience is a nonphysical fact. I examine two recent, comprehensive efforts to naturalize phenomenal consciousness and argue thatnonreductive (...) class='Hi'>naturalism yields a dilemma of reductionism or panpsychism. (shrink)
In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche demands that “psychology shall be<br>recognized again as the queen of the sciences.” While one might cast a dubious glance at the “again,” many of Nietzsche’s insights were indeed psychological, and many of his arguments invoke psychological premises. In Genealogy, he criticizes the “English psychologists” for the “inherent psychological absurdity” of their theory of the origin of good and bad, pointing out the implausibility of the claim that the utility of unegoistic<br>actions would be forgotten. Tabling (...) whether this criticism is valid, we see Nietzsche’s methodologicalnaturalism here: moral claims should be grounded in empirical psychological claims. Later in Genealogy, Nietzsche advances his own naturalistic account of the origins of good, bad, and evil.<br>Three cheers for methodologicalnaturalism, but it was not Nietzsche’s innovation, and he did not pioneer its application to morality. The list of moral naturalists who appealed to psychology arguably includes Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Bentham, and Mill, among many others. If Nietzsche’s naturalism is to be worth the candle of contemporary scholarship, it must involve more than the methodologicalnaturalism that predated him by centuries and to which he made no serious contribution. Nietzsche’s key contribution to naturalism is not his adherence to its methodology, but his discovery of certain psychological facts. In particular, he realized that mental states are not ordinary dyadic relations between a subject and an intentional content. Nietzsche discovered the tenacity of intentional states: when an intentional state loses its object (because the subject realizes the object does not exist, because the object is forbidden, or because of something else), a new object replaces the original; the state does not disappear entirely. As Nietzsche puts it Genealogy, “Man would rather will the void than be void of will.” Nietzsche relies on the tenacity thesis in his explanation of the origin of bad conscience: “All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn inward […. They turn] against [their] possessors.” When hostility towards others becomes impossible, hostility does not disappear; instead, its object is replaced. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between methodologicalnaturalism and the standard practice within philosophy of constructing theories on the basis of our intuitions about imaginary cases, especially in the work of Alvin Goldman. It is argued that current work in cognitive science presents serious problems for Goldman's approach.
History and the modern sciences are characterized by what is sometimes called a methodologicalnaturalism that disregards talk of divine agency. Some religious thinkers argue that this reflects a dogmatic materialism: a non-negotiable and a priori commitment to a materialist metaphysics. In response to this charge, I make a sharp distinction between procedural requirements and metaphysical commitments. The procedural requirement of history and the sciences—that proposed explanations appeal to publicly-accessible bodies of evidence—is non-negotiable, but has no metaphysical implications. (...) The metaphysical commitment is naturalistic, but is both a posteriori and provisional, arising from the fact that for more than 400 years no proposed theistic explanation has been shown capable of meeting the procedural requirement. I argue that there is nothing to prevent religious thinkers from seeking to overturn this metaphysically naturalistic stance. But in order to do so they would need to show that their proposed theistic explanations are the best available explanations of a range of phenomena. Until this has been done, the metaphysical naturalism of history and the sciences remains defensible. (shrink)
This book is a long-awaited major statement by a pre-eminent analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, on one of our biggest debates -- the compatibility of science and religion. The last twenty years has seen a cottage industry of books on this divide, but with little consensus emerging. Plantinga, as a top philosopher but also a proponent of the rationality of religious belief, has a unique contribution to make. His theme in this short book is that the conflict between science and theistic (...) religion is actually superficial, and that at a deeper level they are in concord. -/- Plantinga examines where this conflict is supposed to exist -- evolution, evolutionary psychology, analysis of scripture, scientific study of religion -- as well as claims by Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Philip Kitcher that evolution and theistic belief cannot co-exist. Plantinga makes a case that their arguments are not only inconclusive but that the supposed conflicts themselves are superficial, due to the methodologicalnaturalism used by science. On the other hand, science can actually offer support to theistic doctrines, and Plantinga uses the notion of biological and cosmological "fine-tuning" in support of this idea. Plantinga argues that we might think about arguments in science and religion in a new way -- as different forms of discourse that try to persuade people to look at questions from a perspective such that they can see that something is true. In this way, there is a deep and massive consonance between theism and the scientific enterprise. (shrink)
Methodologicalnaturalism states (roughly speaking) that only science can be a route to knowledge. This purported piece of knowledge looks self-condemning, however; after all, it was formulated in the armchair, and not in the laboratory. I argue that on a popular (if largely unarticulated) construal of naturalism as inference to the best explanation, methodologicalnaturalism escapes this charge of internal incoherence, and in fact is self-endorsing rather than self-condemning.
Philosophical naturalism faces a dilemma: take it as an ideology, and you face charges of internal incoherence, since the ideological stance itself does not look to be a deliverance of science. Forgo the ideological aspect, on the other hand, and naturalism becomes a merely subjective assessment, a cry of “yay for science!” that carries no normative weight for those who are not inclined to agree. I ﬁrst argue that both horns of this dilemma are sharp, and that current (...) attempts to negotiate them have failed. I then give a plausible construal of methodologicalnaturalism that is both ideological and internally coherent, and so threads this dilemma. Finally, I consider objections to this formulation of naturalism. (shrink)
This essay argues that phenomenology is uniquely suited to critique naturalism without lapsing into a romantic, anti-scientific, or dystopian view of modern science. This argument situates Husserl’s retrieval of the environmental relation in the Vienna Lecture between two alternative tendencies in contemporary ecological phenomenology: 1) the rejection of or indifference to the positive sciences, and 2) the adoption of naturalism in phenomenological methodology. On the one hand, the claim is that the phenomenological return to the environment should not (...) imply a rejection of methodologicalnaturalism. On the other hand, while an ecological phenomenology is consistent with naturalistic investigation, there is nevertheless a heterogeneity between the two. In short, phenomenology need not become naturalized in order for it to be ecological. (shrink)
Broadly speaking, a naturalistic approach to epistemology seeks to explain human knowledge – and justification in particular – as a phenomenon in the natural world, in keeping with the tenets of naturalism. Naturalism is typically defined, in part, by a commitment to scientific method as the only legitimate means of attaining knowledge of the natural world. Naturalism is often thought to entail empiricism by virtue of this methodological commitment. However, scientific methods themselves may incorporate a priori (...) elements, so empiricism does not follow from the methodological commitments of naturalism alone. And given a suitably-naturalistic conception of the a priori, a priori forms of justification may be compatible with naturalism generally. -/- A priori justification is, in principle, compatible with naturalism – and hence naturalistic epistemologies – if the a priori is understood in a way that is free of some of the inessential properties that have been associated with the concept. I argue that some of the more prominent strategies for accommodating normative notions within a naturalistic framework allow for the possibility of a priori justification. These include reliabilism, instrumental rationality, and (partial) nonfactualism about justification. A priori justification thus need not be seen as standing in opposition to all naturalistic epistemologies. It is only with nonnormative naturalistic epistemologies that a priori justification per se is incompatible, and this only because the notion of justification itself has no role to play within a nonnormative approach to epistemology. (shrink)
History and the modern sciences are characterized by what is sometimes called a “methodologicalnaturalism” that disregards talk of divine agency. Some religious thinkers argue that this reflects a dogmatic materialism: a non-negotiable and a priori commitment to a materialist metaphysics. In response to this charge, I make a sharp distinction between procedural requirements and metaphysical commitments. The procedural requirement of history and the sciences—that proposed explanations appeal to publicly-accessible bodies of evidence—is non-negotiable, but has no metaphysical implications. (...) The metaphysical commitment is naturalistic, but is both a posteriori and provisional, arising from the fact that formore than 400 years no proposed theistic explanation has been shown capable ofmeeting the procedural requirement. I argue that there is nothing to prevent religious thinkers from seeking to overturn this metaphysically naturalistic stance. But in order to do so they would need to show that their proposed theistic explanations are the best available explanations of a range of phenomena. Until this has been done, the metaphysical naturalism of history and the sciences remains defensible. (shrink)
Introduction: From legal realism to naturalized jurisprudence -- A note on legal indeterminacy -- Part I. American legal realism and its critics -- Rethinking legal realism: toward a naturalized jurisprudence (1997) -- Legal realism and legal positivism reconsidered (2001) -- Is there an "American" jurisprudence? (1997) -- Postscript to Part I: Interpreting legal realism -- Part II. Ways of naturalizing jurisprudence -- Legal realism, hard positivism, and the limits of conceptual analysis (1998, 2001) -- Why Quine is not a postmodernist (...) (1997) -- Beyond the Hart/Dworkin debate: the methodology problem in jurisprudence (2003) -- Part III. Naturalism, morality, and objectivity -- Moral facts and best explanations (2001) -- Objectivity, morality, and adjudication (2001) -- Law and objectivity (2002). (shrink)
Aquinas’s actual response to a naturalistic challenge at ST I.2.3 is one which most naturalists would find unimpressive. However, I shall argue that there is a stronger response latent in his philosophical system. I take Quine as an example of a methodological naturalist, examine the roots of his position and look at two critical responses to his views (those of BonJour and Boghossian). If one adjusts some of the problematical aspects of their responses and establishes a hybrid position on (...) the epistemology and metaphysics of an antinaturalistic stance, it turns out to be the position Aquinas himself takes on meaning and knowledge. (shrink)