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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
According 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 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)
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)
This chapter compares and contrasts Quine’s naturalism with the versions of two post-Quineans on the nature of science, logic, and mathematics. The role of indispensability in the philosophy of mathematics is treated in detail.
I distinguish among three senses in which meaning may be said to be normative, one trivial, the other two more robust. According to the trivial sense, meaningful expressions have conditions of correct application. According to the first robust sense, these conditions are determined by norms. According to the second robust sense, statements about these conditions have normative implications. Normativity in one or the other of the robust senses, but not in the trivial sense, is commonly thought to pose a threat (...) to naturalism. I argue that, given its trivial normativity, meaning cannot be normative in the first robust sense but it is normative in the sense that statements about the meaning of terms have hypothetical normative implications that are essential to meaning. I further argue that this normativity itself poses no threat to naturalism. Rather, this normativity follows from the fact that the trivial normativity of meaning precludes its naturalization. (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.
There is a disagreement over how to understand Nietzsche’s view of science. According to what I call the Negative View, Nietzsche thinks science should be reconceived or superseded by another discourse, such as art, because it is nihilistic. By contrast, what I call the Positive View holds that Nietzsche does not think science is nihilistic, so he denies that it should be reinterpreted or overcome. Interestingly, defenders of each position can appeal to Nietzsche’s understanding of naturalism to support their (...) interpretation. I argue that Nietzsche embraces a social constructivist conception of causality that renders his naturalism incompatible with the views of naturalism attributed to him by the two dominant readings. (shrink)
Physicist Sean Carroll has developed a new theory of the fundamental nature of reality, which he calls “Poetic Naturalism,” with the stated goal of developing a theory of what is real that is consistent with the findings of natural science. Carroll claims to prove that morality cannot be seen as objectively true. This essay argues that Carroll's conclusion is not convincing; there is no good reason to reject moral objectivity within a purely naturalistic worldview.
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)
Phillip Johnson claims that Creationism is a better explanation of the existence and characteristics of biological species than is evolutionary theory. He argues that the only reason biologists do not recognize that Creationist's negative arguments against Darwinism have proven this is that they are wedded to a biased ideological philosophy —Naturalism — which dogmatically denies the possibility of an intervening creative god. However,Johnson fails to distinguish Ontological Naturalism from Methodological Naturalism. Science makes use of the latter and (...) I show how it is not dogmatic but follows from sound requirements for empirical evidential testing. Furthermore, Johnson has no serious alternative type of positive evidence to offer for Creationism, and purely negative argumentation, despite his attempt to legitimate it, will not suffice. (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)