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)
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)
Naturalism in Mathematics investigates how the most fundamental assumptions of mathematics can be justified. One prevalent philosophical approach to the problem--realism--is examined and rejected in favor of another approach--naturalism. Penelope Maddy defines this naturalism, explains the motivation for it, and shows how it can be successfully applied in set theory. Her clear, original treatment of this fundamental issue is informed by current work in both philosophy and mathematics, and will be accessible and enlightening to readers from both (...) disciplines. (shrink)
How can we understand the world as a whole instead of separate natural and human realms? Joseph T. Rouse proposes an approach to this classic problem based on radical new conceptions of both philosophical naturalism and scientific practice.
This chapter offers an introduction to naturalist views in contemporary metaethics. Such views attempt to find a place for normative properties (such as goodness and rightness) in the concrete physical world as it is understood by both science and common sense. The chapter begins by introducing simple naturalist conceptual analyses of normative terms. It then explains how these analyses were rejected in the beginning of the 20th Century due to G.E. Moore’s influential Open Question Argument. After this, the chapter considers (...) what good general reasons there are for defending naturalism in metaethics. The bulk of the chapter will then survey new semantic and metaphysical forms of naturalism which in different ways attempt to address Moore’s objection to naturalism. These more recent versions of naturalism—using new resources from philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of science and epistemology—attempt to explain why the Open Question Argument fails. (shrink)
Support for the biological concept of race declined slowly but steadily during the second half of the twentieth century. However, debate about the validity of the race concept has recently been reignited. Genetic-clustering studies have shown that despite the small proportion of genetic variation separating continental populations, it is possible to assign some individuals to their continents of origin, based on genetic data alone. Race naturalists have interpreted these studies as empirically confirming the existence of human subspecies, and by extension (...) biological races. However, the new racial naturalism is not convincing. The continental clusters appealed to by race naturalists are arbitrary and superficial groupings, which should not be elevated to subspecies status. Moreover, the criteria applied to humans are not consistent with those used to define subspecies in nonhuman animals, and no rationale has been given for this differential treatment. (shrink)
Since its original publication in 1979, The Possibility of Naturalism has been one of the most influential works in contemporary philosophy of science and social science. It is a cornerstone of the critical realist position, which is now widely seen as offering a viable alternative to move positivism and postmodernism. This revised edition includes a new foreword.
The question raised by this volume is “How successful is naturalism?” The question presupposes that we already know what naturalism is and what counts as success. But, as anyone familiar with the literature on naturalism knows, both suppositions are suspect. To answer the question, then, we must first say what we mean in this context by both ‘naturalism’ and ‘success’. I’ll start with ‘success’. I will then argue that, by the standard of measurement that I shall (...) identify here, naturalism is an utter failure. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that there has been some mismatch between the naturalist rhetoric of experimental philosophy and its actual practice: experimental philosophy is not necessarily, and not even paradigmatically, a naturalistic enterprise. To substantiate this claim, a case study is given for what genuinely naturalist experimental philosophy would look like.
The paper outlines the evolution of on-going meta-philosophical debates about intuitions, explains different notions of 'intuition' employed in these debates, and argues for the philosophical relevance of intuitions in an aetiological sense taken from cognitive psychology. On this basis, it advocates a new kind of methodological naturalism which it finds implicit, for instance, in the warrant project in experimental philosophy: a meta-philosophical naturalism that promotes the use of scientific methods in meta-philosophical investigations. This 'higher-order' naturalism is consistent (...) with both methodological naturalism and methodological rationalism about first-order philosophy, and can help us adjudicate between the two, in a piecemeal manner. (shrink)
Is truth itself natural? This is an important question for both those working on truth and those working on naturalism. For theorists of truth, answering the question of whether truth is natural will tell us more about the nature of truth (or lack of it), and the relations between truth and other properties of interest. For those working on naturalism, answering this question is of paramount importance to those who wish to have truth as part of the natural (...) order. In this paper, we focus primarily on the kinds of theories of truth that occupy the central positions in current debates about truth, namely correspondence theories, deflationary theories, epistemic theories, and pluralist theories, and aim to discern the extent to which truth is a natural property on each view. (shrink)
The chapter distinguishes between a weak and a strong form of ontological naturalism. Strong ontological naturalism is the view that all truths can be deduced, at least in principle, from truths about physical entities at the lowest level of organization, for example, truths about the elementary particles and forces. Weak ontological naturalism is the view that only physical properties can be causally efficacious. Strong ontological naturalism entails weak ontological naturalism but not vice versa. I then (...) argue that the existence of a truth property is consistent with weak ontological naturalism, as truth is not causally efficacious. After considering several prominent theories of truth, I argue that the only theories of truth that are consistent with strong ontological naturalism are deflationary doctrines that deny that there is a substantial truth property but these theories are not suitable adjoints to strong naturalism, as folks with strong naturalist inclinations normally want to posit the existence of substantial natural properties. Yet if the truth property itself is insubstantial, so are claims about the existence of substantial natural properties. I conclude by arguing that the result that there cannot be a naturalistic theory of truth is unsurprising, as there are independent reasons for thinking that the basic semantic notions must be treated an irreducible, primitive properties. (shrink)
The chapter has four parts. In the first, I argue that we can be justified in believing that there are mind-independent material objects only if we can be justified in believing that modal properties are exemplified in at least some of the regions of space-time that we take to be occupied by material objects. In the second, I argue that we can be justified in believing that modal properties are exemplified in a region only if we can be justified in (...) classificatory judgments--judgments like 'this region contains an F', where 'F' is a name for a natural kind and furthermore constitutes a metaphysically better answer to the question, "What kind of object is in that region?" than any name for any other kind. In the third part, I dismiss as failures three views about how naturalists might be able to be justified in classificatory judgments. I consider a fourth which presupposes that, if there are material objects, then we are justified in believing that science reveals some of them to have proper functions; and I note that if this fourth proposal fails, there is good reason to think that any other proposal will as well. In the final section I argue that this fourth proposal does indeed fail by showing that there are material objects, science does not reveal any of them to have proper functions. If I am right, and if (as seems plausible) we are justified in believing that there exist mind-independent material objects (e.g. people), then we ought to reject naturalism. (shrink)
As pop naturalists tell it, free will is incompatible with naturalism. And apparently many scientists agree. Philosopher Daniel Dennett reports, for example, that he has “learned from discussions with a variety of scientists…[that] free will, in their view, is obviously incompatible with naturalism, with determinism, and very likely incoherent against any background, so they cheerfully insist that of course they don’t have free will” (2013, 47). Many philosophers, however, disagree (e.g., Mele 2014; Nahmias 2014; Vargas 2014), since compatibilist (...) forms of free will seem amendable to purely naturalist underwriting. There is nevertheless, among philosophers, a near consensus on this: naturalism is certainly incompatible with libertarian free will. We aim to show in this paper that free will is not incompatible with naturalism. Even the purportedly “spooky” – or “colossally whackadoodle”2 – libertarian form of free will known as agent causation can be situated within a naturalistic metaphysical framework. Neither of us, though, is a naturalist,3 and you know what they say about enemies bearing gifts. Still, our goal in this chapter is to offer a framework for an agent‐causal account of free will that naturalists should be able to accept. (shrink)
This paper examines the methodological anti-naturalist claim that social scientists make indispensably use of a method that is distinct to the social sciences, when studying norms by way of participant observation. Based on a detailed examination of how social scientists use participant observation to study norms, I argue that, on diverse specifications of “method”, the methodological anti-naturalist contention should be rejected.
Non-naturalism – roughly the view that normative properties and facts are sui generis and incompatible with a purely scientific worldview – faces a difficult challenge with regard to explaining why it is that the normative features of things supervene on their natural features. More specifically: non-naturalists have trouble explaining the necessitation relations, whatever they are, that hold between the natural and the normative. My focus is on Stephanie Leary's recent response to the challenge, which offers an attempted non-naturalism-friendly (...) explanation for the supervenience of the normative on the natural by appealing to hybrid properties, the essences of which link them to both natural and sui generis normative properties in suitable ways. I argue that despite its ingenuity, Leary's solution fails. This is so, I claim, because there are no hybrid properties of the sort that her suggestion appeals to. If non-naturalists are to deal with the supervenience challenge, they will have to find another way of doing so. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that the ethical supervenes on the natural, where this is roughly the claim that it is impossible for two circumstances to be identical in all natural respects, but different in their ethical respects. This chapter refines and defends the traditional thought that this fact poses a significant challenge to ethical non-naturalism, a view on which ethical properties are fundamentally different in kind from natural properties. The challenge can be encapsulated in three core claims which the (...) chapter defends: that a defensible non-naturalism is committed to the supervenience of the ethical, that this commits the non-naturalist to a brute necessary connection between properties of distinct kinds, and that commitment to such brute connections counts against the non-naturalist’s view. Each of these claims has recently been challenged. Against Nicholas Sturgeon’s recent doubts about the dialectical force of supervenience, this chapter defends a supervenience thesis as deserving to be common ground among ethical realists. It is then argued that attempts to explain supervenience on behalf of the non-naturalist either fail as explanations, generate near-identical explanatory burdens elsewhere, or appeal to commitments that are inconsistent with core motivations for non-naturalism. The chapter concludes that, suitably refined, the traditional argument against nonnaturalism from supervenience is alive and well. (shrink)
This paper considers normative naturalism, understood as the view that (i) normative sentences are descriptive of the way things are, and (ii) their truth/falsity does not require ontology beyond the ontology of the natural world. Assuming (i) for the sake of argument, I here show that (ii) is false not only as applied to ethics, but more generally as applied to practical and epistemic normativity across the board. The argument is a descendant of Moore's Open Question Argument and Hume's (...) Is-Ought Gap. It goes roughly as follows: to ensure that natural ontology suffices for normative truth, there must be semantically grounded entailments from the natural truths to the normative truths. There are none. So natural ontology does not suffice for normative truth. (shrink)
In this chapter I seek to examine the credibility of Finnis’s basic stance on Aquinas that while many neo-Thomists are meta-ethically naturalistic in their understanding of natural law theory (for example, Heinrich Rommen, Henry Veatch, Ralph McInerny, Russell Hittinger, Benedict Ashley and Anthony Lisska), Aquinas’s own meta-ethical framework avoids the “pitfall” of naturalism. On examination, the short of it is that I find Finnis’s account (while adroit) wanting in the interpretation stakes vis-à-vis other accounts of Aquinas’s meta-ethical foundationalism. I (...) think that the neo-Thomists are basically right to argue that for Aquinas we cannot really understand objective truths about moral standards unless we derive them from our intellective knowledge of natural facts as given to us by the essential human nature that we have. While I find Finnis’s interpretative position on Aquinas wanting, I go on to argue that his own attachment to non-naturalism is justified and should not be jettisoned. Because I think non-naturalism important to the future tenability of a viable natural law ethics (an ethics that is both cognitive and objectivist), I argue that Finnis should, so to speak, “beef up” his “fundamental option” for non-naturalism and more fully avail himself of certain argumentative strategies available in its defense, argumentative strategies that are inspired by the analytical philosophy of G.E. Moore. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 26 - 52 This is an explication and defense of P. F. Strawson’s naturalist theory of free will and moral responsibility. I respond to a set of criticisms of the view by free will skeptics, compatibilists, and libertarians who adopt the _core assumption_: Strawson thinks that our reactive attitudes provide the basis for a rational justification of our blaming and praising practices. My primary aim is to explain and defend Strawson’s naturalism in (...) light of criticisms based on the core assumption. Strawson’s critiques of incompatibilism and free will skepticism are not intended to provide rational justifications for either compatibilism or the claim that some persons have free will. Hence, the charge that Strawson’s “arguments” are faulty is misplaced. The core assumption resting behind such critiques is mistaken. (shrink)
Quayshawn Spencer (2014) misunderstands my treatment of racial naturalism. I argued that racial naturalism must entail a strong claim, such as “races are subspecies”, if it is to be a substantive position that contrasts with anti-realism about biological race. My recognition that not all race naturalists make such a strong claim is evident throughout the article Spencer reviews (Hochman, 2013a). Spencer seems to agree with me that there are no human subspecies, and he endorses a weaker form of (...) racial naturalism. However, he supports his preferred version of ‘racial naturalism’ with arguments that are not well described as ‘naturalistic’. I argue that Spencer offers us an unnaturalised racial naturalism. (shrink)
In this article I investigate several "sorts of naturalism" that have been advanced in recent years as possible foundations for virtue ethics: those of Michael Thompson, Philippa Foot, Rosalind Hursthouse, John McDowell, and Larry Arnhart. Each of these impressive attempts fails in illuminatingly different ways, and in the opening sections I analyze what has gone variously wrong. I next use this analysis to articulate four criteria that any successful Aristotelian naturalism must meet (my goal is to show what (...)naturalism must deliver, not yet to show that it can deliver it). I then look at Alasdair MacIntyre's approach, which begins with our natural trajectory from complete dependency toward becoming independent practical reasoners; I argue that this sort of naturalism meets the aforementioned criteria and thus provides a good example of what Aristotelian naturalists must do. I close with a consideration of two important objections to any broadly MacIntyrean sort of naturalism. (shrink)
Philosophical naturalism, according to which philosophy is continuous with the natural sciences, has dominated the Western academy for well over a century, but Michael Rea claims that it is without rational foundation. Rea argues compellingly to the surprising conclusion that naturalists are committed to rejecting realism about material objects, materialism, and perhaps realism about other minds.
I proffer a success argument for classical logical consequence. I articulate in what sense that notion of consequence should be regarded as the privileged notion for metaphysical inquiry aimed at uncovering the fundamental nature of the world. Classical logic breeds necessitism. I use necessitism to produce problems for both ontological naturalism and atheism.
Alvin Plantinga has argued that evolutionary naturalism (the idea that God does not tinker with evolution) undermines its own rationality. Natural selection is concerned with survival and reproduction, and false beliefs conjoined with complementary motivational drives could serve the same aims as true beliefs. Thus, argues Plantinga, if we believe we evolved naturally, we should not think our beliefs are, on average, likely to be true, including our beliefs in evolution and naturalism. I argue herein that our cognitive (...) faculties are less reliable than we often take them to be, that it is theism which has difficulty explaining the nature of our cognition, that much of our knowledge is not passed through biological evolution but learned and transferred through culture, and that the unreliability of our cognition helps explain the usefulness of science. (shrink)
This paper argues that a priori justification is, in principle, compatible with naturalism—if the a priori is understood in a way that is free of the inessential properties that, historically, have been associated with the concept. I argue that empirical indefeasibility is essential to the primary notion of the a priori ; however, the indefeasibility requirement should be interpreted in such a way that we can be fallibilist about apriori-justified claims. This fallibilist notion of the a priori accords with (...) the naturalist’s commitment to scientific methodology in that it allows for apriori-justified claims to be sensitive to further conceptual developments and the expansion of evidence. The fallibilist apriorist allows that an a priori claim is revisable in only a purely epistemic sense. This modal claim is weaker than what is required for a revisability thesis to establish empiricism, so fallibilist apriorism represents a distinct position. (shrink)
Survey article on Naturalism dealing with Hume's NOFI (including Prior's objections), Moore's Naturalistic Fallacy and the Barren Tautology Argument. Naturalism, as I understand it, is a form of moral realism which rejects fundamental moral facts or properties. Thus it is opposed to both non-cognitivism, and and the error theory but also to non-naturalism. General conclusion: as of 1991: naturalism as a program has not been refuted though none of the extant versions look particularly promising.
In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (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)
Metaethical realists disagree about the nature of normative properties. Naturalists think that they are ordinary natural properties: causally efficacious, a posteriori knowable, and usable in the best explanations of natural and social sciences. Non-naturalist realists, in contrast, argue that they are sui generis: causally inert, a priori knowable and not a part of the subject matter of sciences. It has been assumed so far that naturalists can explain causally how the normative predicates manage to refer to normative properties, whereas non-naturalists (...) are unable to provide equally satisfactory metasemantic explanations. This article first describes how the previous non-naturalist accounts of reference fail to tell us how the normative predicates could have come to refer to the non-natural properties rather than to the natural ones. I will then use the so-called qua-problem to show how the causal theories of reference of naturalists also fail to fix the reference of normative predicates to unique natural properties. Finally, I will suggest that, just as naturalists need to rely on the non-causal mechanism of reference magnetism to solve the previous problem, non-naturalists, too, can rely on the very same idea to respond to the pressing metasemantic challenges that they face concerning reference. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to explain what ethical naturalism is, to locate the pivotal issue between naturalists and non-naturalists, and to motivate taking naturalism seriously. I do not aim to establish the truth of naturalism nor to answer the various familiar objections to it. But I do aim to motivate naturalism sufficiently that the attempt to deal with the objections will seem worthwhile. I propose that naturalism is best understood as the view that (...) the moral properties are natural in the sense that they are empirical. I pursue certain issues in the understanding of the empirical. The crux of the matter is whether any synthetic proposition about the instantiation of a moral property is strongly a priori in that it does not admit of empirical evidence against it. I propose an argument from epistemic defeaters that, I believe, undermines the plausibility of a priorism in ethics and supports the plausibility of naturalism. (shrink)
Throughout his career, Husserl identifies naturalism as the greatest threat to both the sciences and philosophy. In this paper, I explicate Husserl’s overall diagnosis and critique of naturalism and then examine the specific transcendental aspect of his critique. Husserl agreed with the Neo-Kantians in rejecting naturalism. He has three major critiques of naturalism: First, it (like psychologism and for the same reasons) is ‘countersensical’ in that it denies the very ideal laws that it needs for its (...) own justification. Second, naturalism essentially misconstrues consciousness by treating it as a part of the world. Third, naturalism is the inevitable consequence of a certain rigidification of the ‘natural attitude’ into what Husserl calls the ‘naturalistic attitude’. This naturalistic attitude ‘reifies’ and it ‘absolutizes’ the world such that it is treated as taken-for-granted and ‘obvious’. Husserl’s transcendental phenomenological analysis, however, discloses that the natural attitude is, despite its omnipresence in everyday life, not primary, but in fact is relative to the ‘absolute’ transcendental attitude. The mature Husserl’s critique of naturalism is therefore based on his acceptance of the absolute priority of the transcendental attitude . The paradox remains that we must start from and, in a sense, return to the natural attitude, while, at the same time, restricting this attitude through the on-going transcendental vigilance of the universal epoché. (shrink)
The term ‘naturalism’ has a long and complex history in modern philosophy. W.V.O. Quine famously advocated what has come to be known as a ‘naturalistic turn’ for philosophy as a discipline, meaning that philosophical thought should become continuous with the natural sciences – even claiming that epistemology (theory of knowledge) is nothing but applied psychology.
It is common in metaethics today to draw a distinction between “naturalist” and “non-naturalist” versions of moral realism, where the former view maintains that moral properties are natural properties, while the latter view maintains that they are non-natural properties instead. The nature of the disagreement here can be understood in different ways, but the most common way is to understand it as a metaphysical disagreement. In particular, the disagreement here is about the reducibility of moral properties, where the “naturalists” maintain (...) that moral properties are in some way reducible to the lower-level natural properties on which they supervene, while the “non-naturalists” maintain that moral properties are sui generis and robustly irreducible. In this paper I present a novel version of realist ethical naturalism—a view that I call Emergentist Ethical Naturalism—that reveals this common way of understanding the distinction between naturalism and non-naturalism to be flawed by combining a commitment to ethical naturalism with a commitment to the sui generis and robustly irreducible nature of moral properties that typically defines non-naturalism. Then, after presenting the theory and addressing a few worries that one might have about it, I show how it offers some novel, emergence-based responses to the various supervenience challenges that plague moral realism and thereby gives the ethical naturalist a robustly non-reductive option for dealing with these challenges. (shrink)
While naturalism is used in positive senses by the tradition of analytical philosophy, with Ludwig Wittgenstein its best example, and by the tradition of phenomenology, with Maurice Merleau-Ponty its best exemplar, it also has an extremely negative sense on both of these fronts. Hence, both Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein in their basic thrusts adamantly reject reductionistic naturalism. Although Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology rejects the naturalism Husserl rejects, he early on found a place for the “truth of naturalism.” In a (...) parallel way, Wittgenstein accepts a certain positive sense of naturalism, while rejecting Quine’s kind of naturalism. It is the aim of this paper to investigate the common ground in the views of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty regarding the naturalism that they each espouse and that which they each reject. (shrink)
History and the modern sciences are characterized by what is sometimes called a methodological naturalism 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 paper is a survey of the supervenience challenge to non-naturalist moral realism. I formulate a version of the challenge, consider the most promising non-naturalist replies to it, and suggest that no fully effective reply has yet been given.
Some people believe that there is an “explanatory gap” between the facts of physics and certain other facts about the world—for example, facts about consciousness. The gap is presented as a challenge to any thoroughgoing naturalism or physicalism. We believe that advocates of the explanatory gap have some reasonable expectations that cannot be merely dismissed. We also believe that naturalistic thinkers have the resources to close the explanatory gap, but that they have not adequately explained how and why these (...) resources work. In this paper we isolate the legitimate explanatory demands in the gap reasoning, as it is defended by Chalmers and Jackson . We then argue that these demands can be met. Our solution involves a novel proposal for understanding the relationship between theories, explanations, and scientific identities. (shrink)
Part I: The birth of religious naturalism -- Philosophical religious naturalism -- Theological religious naturalism -- Analyzing the issues -- Interlude religious naturalism in literature -- Part II: The rebirth of religious naturalism -- Sources of religious insight -- Current issues in religious naturalism -- Other current religious naturalists -- Conclusion: Living religiously as a naturalist.
The critical focus of this paper is on a claim made explicitly by Gilbert Harman and accepted implicitly by numerous others, the claim that naturalism supports concurrent defense of scientific objectivism and moral relativism. I challenge the assumptions of Harman's ‘argument from naturalism' used to support this combination of positions, utilizing. Hilary Putnam’s ‘companions in guilt’ argument in order to counter it. The paper concludes that while domain-specific anti-realism is often warranted, Harman’s own views about the objectivity of (...) facts and the subjectivity of values are better seen as stemming from scientistic ideals of knowledge than from dictates of naturalism. Scientists qua scientists make value judgments, and setting aside scientistic assumptions and unrealizable conceptions of scientific objectivity should lead us to more symmetrical metaphilosophical conception of epistemic and ethical normativity than that which underlies Harman's account. (shrink)
Between World War I and World War II, the students of Columbia University's John Dewey and Frederick J. E. Woodbridge built up a school of philosophical naturalism sharply critical of claims to value-neutrality. In the 1930s and 1940s, the second-generation Columbia naturalists (John Herman Randall Jr, Herbert W. Schneider, Irwin Edman, Horace L. Friess, and James Gutmann) and their students who later joined the department (Charles Frankel, Joseph L. Blau, Albert Hofstadter, and Justus Buchler) reacted with dismay to the (...) arrival on American shores of logical empiricism and other analytic modes of philosophy. These figures undermined their colleague Ernest Nagel's attempt to build an alliance with the logical empiricists, accusing them of ignoring the scholar's primary role as a public critic. After the war, the prestige of analytic approaches and a tendency to label philosophies either “analytic” or “Continental” eclipsed the Columbia philosophers’ normatively inflected naturalism. Yet in their efforts to resist logical empiricism, the Columbia naturalists helped to construct a sturdy, canonical portrait of “American philosophy” that proponents still hold up as a third way between analytic and Continental approaches. (shrink)
This essay develops a theological naturalism using Gordon Kaufman's nonpersonal idea of God as serendipitous creativity in contrast to the personal metaphorical theology of Sallie McFague. It then develops a Christian theological naturalism by using Kaufman's idea of historical trajectories, specifically Jesus trajectory1 and Jesus trajectory2. The first is the trajectory in the early Christian church assuming a personal God in the framework of Greek philosophy that results in the Trinity. The second is the naturalistic-humanistic trajectory of creativity (...) (God) that evolves from nonpersonal interactions in the universe and life to creativity in persons and is manifested in Jesus as love. This is elaborated further with Dean Keith Simonton's Darwinian understanding of genius and Marcus Borg's analysis of Jesus as Jewish mystic, teacher of alternative wisdom, and nonviolent resister to the domination system of the Roman Empire. What makes Jesus a religious genius is his exemplifying unconditional, universal love—a new mode of creativity (God) that has evolved from nonhuman to a human form. (shrink)
The point of this paper is to provide a principled framework for a naturalistic, interactivist-constructivist model of rational capacity and a sketch of the model itself, indicating its merits. Being naturalistic, it takes its orientation from scientific understanding. In particular, it adopts the developing interactivist-constructivist understanding of the functional capacities of biological organisms as a useful naturalistic platform for constructing such higher order capacities as reason and cognition. Further, both the framework and model are marked by the finitude and fallibility (...) that science attributes to organisms, with their radical consequences, and also by the individual and collective capacities to improve their performances that learning organisms display. Part A prepares the ground for the exposition through a critique of the dominant Western analytic tradition in rationalising science, followed by a brief exposition of the naturalist framework that will be employed to frame the construction. This results in two sets of guidelines for constructing an alternative. Part B provides the new conception of reason as a rich complex of processes of improvement against epistemic values, and argues its merits. It closes with an account of normativity and our similarly developing rational knowledge of it, including (reflexively) of reason itself. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is one of the most exciting and controversial philosophical movements today. This book explores how it is reshaping thought about philosophical method. Experimental philosophy imports experimental methods and findings from psychology into philosophy. These fresh resources can be used to develop and defend both armchair methods and naturalist approaches, on an empirical basis. This outstanding collection brings together leading proponents of this new meta-philosophical naturalism, from within and beyond experimental philosophy. They explore how the empirical study of (...) philosophically relevant intuition and cognition transforms traditional philosophical approaches and facilitates fresh ones. Part One examines important uses of traditional "armchair" methods which are not threatened by experimental work and develops empirically informed accounts of such methods that can potentially stand up to experimental scrutiny. Part Two analyses different uses and rationales of experimental methods in several areas of philosophy and addresses the key methodological challenges to experimental philosophy: Do its experiments target the intuitions that matter in philosophy? And how can they support conclusions about the rights and wrongs of philosophical views? Essential reading for students of experimental philosophy and metaphilosophy, Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism will also interest students and researchers in related areas such as epistemology and the philosophies of language, perception, mind and action, science and psychology. (shrink)
The work of the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars continues to have a significant impact on the contemporary philosophical scene. His writings have influenced major thinkers such as Rorty, McDowell, Brandom, and Dennett, and many of Sellars basic conceptions, such as the logical space of reasons, the myth of the given, and the manifest and scientific images, have become standard philosophical terms. Often, however, recent uses of these terms do not reflect the richness or the true sense of Sellars original ideas. (...) This book gets to the heart of Sellars philosophy and provides students with a comprehensive critical introduction to his lifes work. The book is structured around what Sellars himself regarded as the philosophers overarching task: to achieve a coherent vision of reality that will finally overcome the continuing clashes between the world as common sense takes it to be and the world as science reveals it to be. It provides a clear analysis of Sellars groundbreaking philosophy of mind, his novel theory of consciousness, his defense of scientific realism, and his thoroughgoing naturalism with a normative turn. Providing a lively examination of Sellars work through the central problem of what it means to be a human being in a scientific world, this book will be a valuable resource for all students of philosophy. (shrink)
W. V. Quine is arguably the intellectual father of contemporary naturalism, the idea that there is no distinctively philosophical perspective on reality. Yet, even though Quine has always been a science-minded philosopher, he did not adopt a fully naturalistic perspective until the early 1950s. In this paper, I reconstruct the genesis of Quine’s ideas on the relation between science and philosophy. Scrutinizing his unpublished papers and notebooks, I examine Quine’s development in the first decades of his career. After identifying (...) three commitments supporting his naturalism—viz. empiricism, holism, and realism—I piece together the evolution of Quine’s position by examining the origins of these commitments one by one, showing how his early views gradually evolved into the mature naturalistic position that would have such an enormous impact on post-war analytic philosophy. (shrink)
The chapter advances two theses involving Descartes and the mind. The first concerns Descartes' conception of mental faculties, particularly the intellect. As I read the _Meditations_, a fundamental aim of that work is to make the reader aware of the deliverances of the pure intellect, perhaps for the first time. Descartes' project is to alter the reader's Aristotelian beliefs about the faculty of the intellect and its relation to the senses, while at the same time coaxing her to use the (...) pure intellect to perceive the first truths of metaphysics. His anti-Aristotelian understanding of the power of pure intellect undergirds his attempted revolution in metaphysics and physics. The second thesis pertains to Descartes' naturalism about the mind. Descartes typically is seen as having excluded mind from nature, thereby deanimating (literally, "de-souling") the physical world and making it safe for a full-scale mechanistic physics. This attitude effectively makes the mind into "a convenient receptacle for the chips and whittlings of science, rather than a possible object of scientific knowledge" (E. A. Burtt). In contrast, I argue that Descartes included (at least some functions and states of) mind as part of nature, that despite his dualism he continued an established tradition of treating the operations of the senses as open to empirical investigation, and that in virtue of his dualism he initiated a new line of thought leading to the search for specifically psychophysical laws, that is, laws linking non-mental bodily states to states of mind. The precise senses in which Descartes did and did not include *mind* under the rubric *nature* is problematic; but he did use language suggesting that even the intellect is a natural constituent of the human being, as when he ascribed intellectual cognitions to "the natural light.". (shrink)
Many contemporary Anglo-American philosophers describe themselves as naturalists. But what do they mean by that term? Popular naturalist slogans like, "there is no first philosophy" or "philosophy is continuous with the natural sciences" are far from illuminating. "Understanding Naturalism" provides a clear and readable survey of the main strands in recent naturalist thought. The origin and development of naturalist ideas in epistemology, metaphysics and semantics is explained through the works of Quine, Goldman, Kuhn, Chalmers, Papineau, Millikan and others. The (...) most common objections to the naturalist project - that it involves a change of subject and fails to engage with "real" philosophical problems, that it is self-refuting, and that naturalism cannot deal with normative notions like truth, justification and meaning - are all discussed. "Understanding Naturalism" distinguishes two strands of naturalist thinking - the constructive and the deflationary - and explains how this distinction can invigorate naturalism and the future of philosophical research. (shrink)