From metaphysical to substantive naturalism: A case study

Synthese 138 (2):149-173 (2004)
This paper addresses two related questions. First, what is involved in giving a distinctively realist and naturalist construal of an area of discourse, that is, in so much as stating a distinctively realist and naturalist position about, for example, content or value? I defend a condition that guarantees the realism and naturalism of any position satisfying it, at least in the case of positions on content, but perhaps in other cases as well. Second, what sorts of considerations render a distinctively realist and naturalist position more plausible than its irrealist and non-naturalist rivals? The answer here focuses again on theories of content and is wholly negative. I argue that the standard array of arguments offered in support of realist and naturalist theories in fact provide equal support for a host of irrealist and non-naturalist ones. Taken together, these considerations reveal an important gap in the recent philosophical literature on content. The challenge to proponents of putatively realist and naturalist theories is to insure that those theories so much as state distinctively realist and naturalist positions and then to identify arguments that support what is distinctively realist and naturalist about them.
Keywords Content  Metaphysics  Naturalism  Realism
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DOI 10.1023/B:SYNT.0000013235.88476.e3
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