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)
This chapter pursues the question of naturalism in the context of non-Western philosophical contributions to ethics and philosophy of mind: First, what conception of naturalism, if any, is best suited to capture the scope of Buddhist Reductionism? And second, whether such a conception can still accommodate the distinctive features of phenomenal consciousness (e.g., subjectivity, intentionality, first-person givenness, etc.). The first section reviews dominant conceptions of naturalism, and their applicability to the Buddhist project. In the second section, the (...) author provides an example of problematic issues more stringent conceptions of naturalism under the guise of neurophysicalism confront, and evaluate Flanagan’s response to these issues. The third section considers briefly the reflexivity thesis (the thesis that consciousness consists in conscious mental states being implicitly self-aware), specifically as articulated by Dignaga, Dharmakirti and their followers, and uses this thesis to articulate a conception of minimal agency as mineness that, the author argues, further challenges Flanagan’s neurophysicalism stance and his compatibilist account of moral agency. The paper concludes, in the fourth section, by suggesting a way in which no-ownership conceptions of reflexive self-consciousness can help us both to get the structure of phenomenal consciousness right and to ground our conceptions of agency, intentionality, and moral responsibility. (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)
C.D. Broad pointed out that philosophy in the Twentieth Century radically reduced its scope by contracting the methods it deployed. While traditionally philosophers had used analysis, synopsis and synthesis to reveal and overcome the inconsistencies of culture, critical philosophers reduced the role accorded to synopsis and eliminated any role for synthesis. This, it is argued, was a disastrous wrong turn that has led philosophers to embrace scientism, equated with naturalism, which has marginalized and reduced to irrelevance not only most (...) of philosophy, but most of the humanities. Showing how such philosophy evolved from one branch of neo-Kantian philosophy, it is argued there was no reason to constrict philosophy in this way. An alternative, more fruitful but largely misrepresented and submerged tradition of philosophical naturalism deriving from Kant is identified, a tradition which can best be characterized as “speculative naturalism”. This tradition, unlike the tradition of analytic philosophy, has made major contributions to science, and is allying science and the humanities. As Michail Epstein pointed out, while the practical outcome of natural science is technology, the practical outcome of the humanities is the transformation of culture, and ourselves. It is central to the creation of the future. Philosophy associated with speculative naturalism promises to play a major role in the transformation of culture required to overcome the current global ecological crisis. It could provide the foundation for a new “ecological civilization”. (shrink)
An important strand of current experimental philosophy promotes a new kind of methodological naturalism. This chapter argues that this new ‘metaphilosophical naturalism’ is fundamentally consistent with key tenets of Wittgenstein’s metaphilosophy, and can provide empirical foundations for therapeutic conceptions of philosophy. Metaphilosophical naturalism invites us to contribute to the resolution of philosophical problems about X by turning to scientific findings about the way we think about X – in general or when doing philosophy. This new naturalism (...) encourages us to use resources from psychology that can empirically vindicate precisely some of the most controversial aspects of Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy: They can establish the need, and provide key tools, for something worth calling ‘therapy’, in philosophy. As ‘pudding proof’ this chapter shows how methods and findings from psycholinguistics motivate and facilitate a therapeutic approach to a characteristically philosophical problem: ‘the problem of perception’. (shrink)
Contemporary naturalism is changing and scientific reductionism is under challenge from those who advocate a more comprehensive outlook. This special issue of Telos, based on the first Telos Australia Symposium held at Swinburne University in Melbourne in February 2014, introduces some of the key questions in the current debates. It also poses the question of whether more satisfactory political and social thought can be produced if scientific reductionism is replaced by a richer and more hermeneutical naturalism, one that (...) takes more account of philosophical anthropology, actual co-involvements of human beings and their environments, and the potential of more naturalistically grounded approaches to culture. (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)
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)
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 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 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)
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)
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 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)
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.
There are two main ways to develop practices in religious naturalism. The first way is to practice within some traditional religion. Since those religions involve the worship of divine persons, which religious naturalists reject, religious naturalists must develop non-literal or fictional styles of participation in those religions. The second way is to develop new naturalistic religions. Since these will not be religions of worship, they will be religions of self-realization. Self-realization includes physiological, ethical, and spiritual self-realization. The goal of (...) spiritual self-realization is an ideal self whose concern includes all things and which is therefore existentially unified with nature. Techniques for self-realization include Stoic and Buddhist meditative practices, transformational festivals, and the use of entheogens. (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)
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.
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)
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)
An extended critical investigation of Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN). -/- I wrote this a couple of years ago as a way of thinking through the argument, but now lack the ambition to revise it into a paper. (It's too long to be a paper, too short and too narrowly focused on one person's argument to be a book.) Rather than let it age in private, I'm sharing it publicly for anyone interested in Plantinga's argument.
This paper argues that Nietzsche is a critic of just the kind of genealogical debunking he is popularly associated with. We begin by showing that interpretations of Nietzsche which see him as engaging in genealogical debunking turn him into an advocate of nihilism, for on his own premises, any truthful genealogical inquiry into our values is going to uncover what most of his contemporaries deem objectionable origins and thus license global genealogical debunking. To escape nihilism and make room for (...) class='Hi'>naturalism without indiscriminate subversion, we then argue, Nietzsche targets the way of thinking about values that permits genealogical debunking: far from trying to subvert values simply by uncovering their origins, Nietzsche is actively criticising genealogical debunking thus understood. Finally, we draw out the consequences of our reading for Nietzsche’s positive vision. (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.
The disciplinary characterisation (DC) is the most popular approach to defining metaphysical naturalism and physicalism. It defines metaphysical naturalism with reference to scientific theories and defines physicalism with reference to physical theories, and suggests that every entity that exists is a posited entity of these theories. DC has been criticised for its inability to solve Hempel’s dilemma and a list of problems alike. In this paper, I propose and defend a novel version of DC that can be called (...) a historical paths approach. The idea is (roughly) that metaphysical naturalism can be defined with reference to the historical ideas that current scientific ideas descend from. I argue that it is not rendered implausible by the above problems, and hence that DC is more defensible and attractive than it may first appear. I then argue that the approach also provides a useful framework for the naturalisation of the philosophy of mind and phenomenology. (shrink)
Two countervailing trends mark the intellectual tenor of our age the spread of naturalistic worldviews and religious orthodoxies. Advances in biogenetics, brain research, and robotics are clearing the way for the penetration of an objective scientific self-understanding of persons into everyday life. For philosophy, this trend is associated with the challenge of scientific naturalism. At the same time, we are witnessing an unexpected revitalization of religious traditions and the politicization of religious communities across the world. From a philosophical perspective, (...) this revival of religious energies poses the challenge of a fundamentalist critique of the principles underlying the modern Wests postmetaphysical understanding of itself. The tension between naturalism and religion is the central theme of this major new book by Jrgen Habermas. On the one hand he argues for an appropriate naturalistic understanding of cultural evolution that does justice to the normative character of the human mind. On the other hand, he calls for an appropriate interpretation of the secularizing effects of a process of social and cultural rationalization increasingly denounced by the champions of religious orthodoxies as a historical development peculiar to the West. These reflections on the enduring importance of religion and the limits of secularism under conditions of postmetaphysical reason set the scene for an extended treatment the political significance of religious tolerance and for a fresh contribution to current debates on cosmopolitanism and a constitution for international society. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the best way for a non-naturalist to explain why the normative supervenes on the natural is to claim that, while there are some sui generis normative properties whose essences cannot be fully specified in non-normative terms and do not specify any non-normative sufficient conditions for their instantiation, there are certain hybrid normative properties whose essences specify both naturalistic sufficient conditions for their own instantiation and sufficient conditions for the instantiation of certain sui generis normative properties. This (...) is the only metaphysical explanation for supervenience on offer, the chapter argues, that can both clearly maintain the pre-theoretical commitments of non-naturalism, and provide a metaphysical explanation not just for supervenience, but for all metaphysical necessities involving natural and normative properties. (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)
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.
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)
Although it is widely recognized that David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) belongs among the greatest works of philosophy, there is little agreement about the correct way to interpret his fundamental intentions. It is an established orthodoxy among almost all commentators that skepticism and naturalism are the two dominant themes in this work. The difficulty has been, however, that Hume's skeptical arguments and commitments appear to undermine and discredit his naturalistic ambition to contribute to "the science of (...) man". This schism appears to leave his entire project broken-backed. The solution to this riddle depends on challenging another, closely related, point of orthodoxy: namely, that before Hume published the Treatise he removed almost all material concerned with problems of religion. Russell argues, contrary to this view, that irreligious aims and objectives are fundamental to the Treatise and account for its underlying unity and coherence. It is Hume's basic anti-Christian aims and objectives that serve to shape and direct both his skeptical and naturalistic commitments. When Hume's arguments are viewed from this perspective we can solve, not only puzzles arising from his discussion of various specific issues, we can also explain the intimate and intricate connections that hold his entire project together. This "irreligious" interpretation provides a comprehensive fresh account of the nature of Hume's fundamental aims and ambitions in the Treatise. It also presents a radically different picture of the way in which HUme's project was rooted in the debates and controversies of his own time, placing the Treatise in an irreligious or anti-Chrisitan philosophical tradition that includes Hobbes, Spinoza and freethinking followers. Considered in these terms, Hume's Treatise constitutes the crowning achievement of the Radical Enlightenment. (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)
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 some quarters within philosophy of medicine, more particularly in the phenomenological approaches, naturalism is looked upon with suspicion. This paper argues, first, that it is necessary to distinguish between two expressions of this attitude towards naturalism: phenomenological approaches to illness disagree with naturalism regarding various theoretical claims and they disapprove of naturalism on an ethical level. Second, this paper argues that both the disagreement with and the disapproval of naturalism are to a large extent (...) confused. It then offers some proposals to set up an agenda for future collaboration. (shrink)
Hornsby is a defender of a position in the philosophy of mind she calls “naïve naturalism”. She argues that current discussions of the mind-body problem have been informed by an overly scientistic view of nature and a futile attempt by scientific naturalists to see mental processes as part of the physical universe. In her view, if naïve naturalism were adopted, the mind-body problem would disappear. I argue that her brand of anti-physicalist naturalism runs into difficulties with the (...) problem of mental causation and the completeness of physics. (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.
ABSTRACTAccording to many naturalists, our ordinary conception of the world is in tension with the scientific image: the conception of the world provided by the natural sciences. But in this paper, I present a critique of naturalism with precedents in the post-Kantian idealist tradition. I argue that, when we consider our actual linguistic behavior, there is no evidence that the truth of our ordinary judgments hinges on what the scientific image turns out to be like. I then argue that (...) the best explanation of this result is that the norms and presuppositions operating in ordinary discourse are different from the norms and presuppositions operating in scientific discourse. So naturalistic attempts to undermine the manifest image are illegitimate attempts to critique a practice ‘from the outside’. (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 non-naturalism from supervenience is alive and well. (shrink)
Normativity concerns what we ought to think or do and the evaluations we make. For example, we say that we ought to think consistently, we ought to keep our promises, or that Mozart is a better composer than Salieri. Yet what philosophical moral can we draw from the apparent absence of normativity in the scientific image of the world? For scientific naturalists, the moral is that the normative must be reduced to the nonnormative, while for nonnaturalists, the moral is that (...) there must be a transcendent realm of norms. _Naturalism and Normativity_ engages with both sides of this debate. Essays explore philosophical options for understanding normativity in the space between scientific naturalism and Platonic supernaturalism. They articulate a liberal conception of philosophy that is neither reducible to the sciences nor completely independent of themyet one that maintains the right to call itself naturalism. Contributors think in new ways about the relations among the scientific worldview, our experience of norms and values, and our movements in the space of reason. Detailed discussions include the relationship between philosophy and science, physicalism and ontological pluralism, the realm of the ordinary, objectivity and subjectivity, truth and justification, and the liberal naturalisms of Donald Davidson, John Dewey, John McDowell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. (shrink)
It has become standard practice for scientists to avoid the possibility of references to God by adopting methodological naturalism, a method that assumes that the reality of the universe, as it can be accessed by empirical enquiry, is to be explained solely with recourse to natural phenomena. In this essay, I critique the Christian practice of this method, arguing that a Christian's practices should always reflect her belief that the universe is created and sustained by the triune God. This (...) leads me to contend that the Christian should adopt a theologically humble approach to the sciences, with which she humbly acknowledges that special divine action is not discernible by empirical science. To further my critique, I consider three ways in which the practice of MN can be particularly problematic for Christianity. (shrink)
Quine's metaphilosophical naturalism is often dismissed as overly “scientistic.” Many contemporary naturalists reject Quine's idea that epistemology should become a “chapter of psychology” and urge for a more “liberal,” “pluralistic,” and/or “open-minded” naturalism instead. Still, whenever Quine explicitly reflects on the nature of his naturalism, he always insists that his position is modest and that he does not “think of philosophy as part of natural science”. Analyzing this tension, Susan Haack has argued that Quine's naturalism contains (...) a “deep-seated and significant ambivalence”. In this paper, I argue that a more charitable interpretation is possible—a reading that does justice to Quine's own pronouncements on the issue. I reconstruct Quine's position and argue that Haack and Quine, in their exchanges, have been talking past each other and that once this mutual misunderstanding is cleared up, Quine's naturalism turns out to be more modest, and hence less scientistic, than many contemporary naturalists have presupposed. I show that Quine's naturalism is first and foremost a rejection of the transcendental. It is only after adopting a broadly science-immanent perspective that Quine, in regimenting our language, starts making choices that many contemporary philosophers have argued to be unduly restrictive. (shrink)
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)
Many philosophical naturalists eschew analysis in favor of discovering metaphysical truths from the a posteriori, contending that analysis does not lead to philosophical insight. A countercurrent to this approach seeks to reconcile a certain account of conceptual analysis with philosophical naturalism; prominent and influential proponents of this methodology include the late David Lewis, Frank Jackson, Michael Smith, Philip Pettit, and David Armstrong. Naturalistic analysis is a tool for locating in the scientifically given world objects and properties we quantify over (...) in everyday discourse. This collection gathers work from a range of prominent philosophers who are working within this tradition, offering important new work as well as critical evaluations of the methodology. Its centerpiece is an important posthumous paper by David Lewis, "Ramseyan Humility," published here for the first time. The contributors first address issues of philosophy of mind, semantics, and the new methodology's a priori character, then turn to matters of metaphysics, and finally consider problems regarding normativity. Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism is one of the first efforts to apply this approach to such a wide range of philosophical issues. _Contributors: _David Braddon-Mitchell, Mark Colyvan, Frank Jackson, Justine Kingsbury, Fred Kroon, David Lewis, Dustin Locke, Kelby Mason, Jonathan McKeown-Green, Peter Menzies, Robert Nola, Daniel Nolan, Philip Pettit, Huw Price, Denis Robinson, Steve Stich, Daniel Stoljar The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket. (shrink)
This study addresses a central theme in current philosophy: Platonism vs Naturalism and provides accounts of both approaches to mathematics, crucially discussing Quine, Maddy, Kitcher, Lakoff, Colyvan, and many others. Beginning with accounts of both approaches, Brown defends Platonism by arguing that only a Platonistic approach can account for concept acquisition in a number of special cases in the sciences. He also argues for a particular view of applied mathematics, a view that supports Platonism against Naturalist alternatives. Not only (...) does this engaging book present the Platonist-Naturalist debate over mathematics in a comprehensive fashion, but it also sheds considerable light on non-mathematical aspects of a dispute that is central to contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
Normative cognition seems rather important, even ineliminable. Communities that lack normative concepts like SHOULD, IS A REASON TO, JUSTIFIES, etc. seem cognitively handicapped and communicatively muzzled. And yet a popular metaethic, normative naturalism, has a hard time accommodating this felt ineliminability. Here, I press the argument against normative naturalism, consider some replies on behalf of normative naturalists, and suggest that a version of sophisticated subjectivism does the best job preserving the importance and ineliminability of the special, normative way (...) of thinking. (shrink)
Non-naturalism—roughly the view that normative properties and facts are sui generis—may be combined either with cognitivism or with non-cognitivism. The chapter starts by explaining how the metaphysically necessary connections between the natural and the normative raise an explanatory challenge for realist non-naturalism, and how it is not at all obvious that quasi-realism offers a way of escaping the challenge. Having briefly explored different kinds of accounts of what it is to have thoughts concerning metaphysical necessity, it then proceeds (...) to argue that once we understand the explanatory challenge in the light of a quasi-realist take on normative judgments, this challenge takes the shape of a first-order normative issue, and will be answerable by the quasi-realists’ lights. When it comes to explaining the necessary connections between the normative and the natural, all will be fine, it seems, if non-naturalists just go a little quasi. (shrink)
During the past few decades, a radical shift has occurred in how philosophers conceive of the relation between science and philosophy. A great number of analytic philosophers have adopted what is commonly called a ‘naturalistic’ approach, arguing that their inquiries ought to be in some sense continuous with science. Where early analytic philosophers often relied on a sharp distinction between science and philosophy—the former an empirical discipline concerned with fact, the latter an a priori discipline concerned with meaning—philosophers today largely (...) follow Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) in his seminal rejection of this distinction. -/- This book offers a comprehensive study of Quine’s naturalism. Building on Quine’s published corpus as well as thousands of unpublished letters, notes, lectures, papers, proposals, and annotations from the Quine archives, this book aims to reconstruct both the nature (chapters 2-4) and the development (chapter 5-7) of his naturalism. As such, this book aims to contribute to the rapidly developing historiography of analytic philosophy, and to provide a better, historically informed, understanding of what is philosophically at stake in the contemporary naturalistic turn. (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)