Foreword to P.f. Strawson's scepticism and naturalism: Some varieties

Abstract

In that book I had two different, though not unrelated aims. The first chapter was concerned with traditional scepticisms about, e.g., the external world and induction. In common with Hume and Wittgenstein (and even Heidegger) I argued that the attempt to combat such doubts by rational argument was misguided: for we are dealing here with the presuppositions, the framework, of all human thought and enquiry. In the other chapters my target was different. It was that species of naturalism which tended to discredit, or somehow to reduce to more scientifically acceptable, physicalistic terms, whole regions of ordinary human thought, language, and experience -- in particular the regions of moral discourse, of the subjectively mental and of the intensional. Here my reaction, as well as my target, was different. I did not merely stress the inescapability of the natural or common human standpoint from which we normally take for granted all that is called in question by scientistic naturalism. I also allowed the latter its own validity from its own limited standpoint.2 Philosophical scepticism and scientistic naturalism represent two types of challenge to ‘central features of our ordinary thought and talk’.3 The overall aim of Scepticism and Naturalism is to respond to these challenges and thereby to vindicate what Strawson refers to elsewhere as ‘our natural metaphysics’

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Quassim Cassam
University of Warwick

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