Modest Evolutionary Naturalism

Biological Theory 1 (1):52-60 (2006)
I begin by arguing that a consistent general naturalism must be understood in terms of methodological maxims rather than metaphysical doctrines. Some specific maxims are proposed. I then defend a generalized naturalism from the common objection that it is incapable of accounting for the normative aspects of human life, including those of scientific practice itself. Evolutionary naturalism, however, is criticized as being incapable of providing a sufficient explanation of categorical moral norms. Turning to the epistemological norms of science itself, particularly those governing the empirical testing of specific models, I argue that these should be regarded as conditional rather than categorical and that, as such, can be given a naturalistic justification. The justification, however, is more cognitive than evolutionary. The historical development of science is found to be a better place for applying evolutionary ideas. After briefly considering the possibility of a naturalistic understanding of mathematics and logic, I turn to the problem of reconciling scientific realism with an evolutionary picture of scientific development. The solution, I suggest, is to understand scientific knowledge as being “perspectival” rather than absolutely objective. I first argue that scientific observation, whether by humans or instruments, is perspectival. This argument is extended to scientific theorizing which is regarded not as the formulation of universal laws of nature but as the construction of principles to be used in the construction of models to be applied to specific natural systems. The application of models, however, is argued to be not merely opportunistic but constrained by the methodological presumption that we live in a world with a definite causal structure even though we can understand it only from various perspectives
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1162/biot.2006.1.1.52
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,727
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Explaining Science: A Cognitive Approach.Ronald N. Giere - 1988 - Philosophical Review 100 (4):653-656.
Genes, Mind and Culture.Charles Lumsden & E. O. Wilson - 1983 - Journal of Philosophy 80 (5):304-311.
Naturalism in Mathematics.Penelope Maddy - 1997 - Oxford University Press.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Scientific Perspectivism: A Philosopher of Science’s Response to the Challenge of Big Data Biology.Werner Callebaut - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):69-80.
Herbert Simon's Silent Revolution.Werner Callebaut - 2007 - Biological Theory 2 (1):76-86.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Naturalistic Epistemologies and A Priori Justification.Lisa Warenski - 2010 - In Marcin Milkowski & Konrad Kalmont-Taminski (eds.), Beyond Description: Naturalism and Normativity. College Publications.
Scientific Perspectivism.Ronald N. Giere - 2006 - University of Chicago Press.
What's Wrong with the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism?Geoff Childers - 2011 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 69 (3):193-204.
The Kuhnian Mode of HPS.Samuel Schindler - 2013 - Synthese 190 (18):4137-4154.
Naturalism and Self-Defeat: Plantinga's Version.N. M. L. Nathan - 1997 - Religious Studies 33 (2):135-142.
Normative Naturalism and the Relativised a Priori.Dan McArthur - 2005 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (2):331 - 350.
Plantinga on the Epistemic Implications of Naturalism.David Reiter - 2000 - Journal of Philosophical Research 25:141-147.
The Troublesome Explanandum in Plantinga's Argument Against Naturalism.Yingjin Xu - 2011 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 69 (1):1-15.
Levin and Ghins on the “No Miracle” Argument and Naturalism.Mario Alai - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):85-110.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
161 ( #30,153 of 2,197,332 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #148,981 of 2,197,332 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature