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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
Normative naturalism is a view about the status of epistemology and philosophy of science; it is a meta-epistemology. It maintains that epistemology can both discharge its traditional normative role and nonetheless claim a sensitivity to empirical evidence. The first sections of this essay set out the central tenets of normative naturalism, both in its epistemic and its axiological dimensions; later sections respond to criticisms of that species of naturalism from Gerald Doppelt, Jarrett Leplin and Alex Rosenberg.
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)
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)
This volume brings together fourteen major essays by one of contemporary philosophy's most challenging thinkers. Huw Price links themes from Quine, Carnap, Wittgenstein and Rorty, to craft a powerful critique of contemporary naturalistic metaphysics. He offers a new positive program for philosophy, cast from a pragmatist mould.
Ethical naturalism holds that ethical facts about such matters as good and bad, right and wrong, are part of a purely natural world — the world studied by the sciences. It is supported by the apparent reasonableness of many moral explanations. It has been thought to face an epistemological challenge because of the existence of an “is-ought gap”; it also faces metaphysical objections from philosophers who hold that ethical facts would have to be supernatural or “nonnatural,” sometimes on the (...) grounds that ethical thought has a practical role that no thought about purely natural facts could have. Its defenders have argued resourcefully against these challenges. (shrink)
The term ‘naturalism’ has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy. Its current usage derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed ‘naturalists’ from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars. These philosophers aimed to ally philosophy more closely with science. They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing ‘supernatural’, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including (...) the ‘human spirit’ (Krikorian 1944, Kim 2003). (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)
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)
Naturalism - the thesis that all facts are natural facts, that is the facts that can be recognised and explained by a natural science - plays a central role in contemporary analytical philosophy. Yet many philosophers reject the claims of naturalism. The essays in this anthology explore the difficulties of naturalism by revealing the ambiguities surrounding it, as well as the tensions that exist among its critics.
Science and its philosophical companion, Naturalism, represent reality in wholly nonpersonal terms. How, if at all, can a nonpersonal scheme accommodate the first-person perspective that we all enjoy? In this volume, Lynne Rudder Baker explores that question by considering both reductive and eliminative approaches to the first-person perspective. After finding both approaches wanting, she mounts an original constructive argument to show that a non-Cartesian first-person perspective belongs in the basic inventory of what exists. That is, the world that contains (...) us persons is irreducibly personal.After arguing for the irreducibilty and ineliminability of the first-person perspective, Baker develops a theory of this perspective. The first-person perspective has two stages, rudimentary and robust. Human infants and nonhuman animals with consciousness and intentionality have rudimentary first-person perspectives. In learning a language, a person acquires a robust first-person perspective: the capacity to conceive of oneself as oneself, in the first person. By developing an account of personal identity, Baker argues that her theory is coherent, and she shows various ways in which first-person perspectives contribute to reality. (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)
Statements about a person's good slip into and out of our ordinary discourse about the world with nary a ripple. Such statements are objects of belief and assertion, they obey the rules of logic, and they are often defended by evidence and argument. They even participate in common-sense explanations, as when we say of some person that he has been less subject to wild swings of enthusiasm and disappointment now that, with experience, he has gained a clearer idea of what (...) is good for him. Statements about a person's good present themselves as being about something with respect to which our beliefs can be true or false, warranted or unwarranted. Let us speak of these features as the descriptive side of discourse about a person's good. (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.
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)
1. Introduction 2. Naturalism in the First Half of the Century 3. Three Eminent Figures 3.1 Husserl 3.2 Wittgenstein 3.3 Quine 4. The Nature of Naturalism 5. A Classification of Naturalisms 5.1 Metaphysical Naturalism 5.2 Methodological, or Scientific, Naturalism 5.2.1 Naturalism with a Leading Science: Physicalism and Biologism 5.2.2 Naturalism without a Leading Science 5.3. Analytic, or Semantic, Naturalism 6. Three Fields of Naturalisation 6.1 Naturalising Epistemology 6.2 Naturalising Intentionality 6.3 Naturalising Normativity 7. (...)Naturalism and Human Nature 8. Scientific naturalism quo vadis? 8.1 Scientia mensura and the Disunity of the Special Sciences 8.2 The Business of Philosophy . (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)
The literature on health and diseases is usually presented as an opposition between naturalism and normativism. This article argues that such a picture is too simplistic: there is not one opposition between naturalism and normativism, but many. I distinguish four different domains where naturalist and normativist claims can be contrasted: (1) ordinary usage, (2) conceptually clean versions of “health” and “disease,” (3) the operationalization of dysfunction, and (4) the justification for that operationalization. In the process I present new (...) arguments in response to Schwartz (2007) and Hausman (2012) and expose a link between the arguments made by Schwartz (2007) and Kingma (2010). Distinguishing naturalist claims at these four domains will allow us to make progress by (1) providing more nuanced, intermediate positions about a possible role for values in health and disease; and (2) assisting in the addressing of relativistic worries about the value-ladenness of health and disease. (shrink)
This paper addresses a fundamental question in folk metaphysics: how do we ordinarily view human agency? According to the transcendence account, we view human agency as standing outside of the causal order and imbued with exceptional powers. According to a naturalistic account, we view human agency as subject to the same physical laws as other objects and completely open to scientific investigation. According to exceptionalist naturalism, the truth lies somewhere in between: we view human agency as fitting broadly within (...) the causal order while still being exceptional in important respects. In this paper, I report seven experiments designed to decide between these three competing theories. Across a variety of contexts and types of action, participants agreed that human agents can resist outcomes described as inevitable, guaranteed, and causally determined. Participants viewed non-human animal agents similarly, whereas they viewed computers, robots, and simple inanimate objects differently. At the same time, participants judged that human actions are caused by many things, including psychological, neurological, and social events. Overall, in folk metaphysics, human and non-human animals are viewed as exceptional parts of the natural world. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between methodological naturalism and the standard practice within philosophy of constructing theories on the basis of our intuitions about imaginary cases, especially in the work of Alvin Goldman. It is argued that current work in cognitive science presents serious problems for Goldman's approach.
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)
In _Phenomenology, Naturalism and Empirical Science_, Jack Reynolds takes the controversial position that phenomenology and naturalism are compatible, and develops a hybrid account of phenomenology and empirical science. Though phenomenology and naturalism are typically understood as philosophically opposed to one another, Reynolds argues that this resistance is based on an understanding of transcendental phenomenology that is ultimately untenable and in need of updating. Phenomenology, as Reynolds reorients it, is compatible with liberal naturalism, as well as with (...) weak forms of methodological naturalism. Chapters explore areas where scientific and phenomenological work overlap and sometimes conflict, contesting standard ways of understanding the relationship between phenomenological philosophy and empirical science. The book outlines the significance of the first-person perspective characteristic of phenomenology—both epistemically and ontologically—while according due respect to the relevant empirical sciences. This book makes a significant contribution to one of the central issues in phenomenology and argues for phenomenology’s ongoing importance for the future of philosophy. (shrink)
We propose an objective and justifiable ethics that is contingent on the truth of evolutionary theory. We do not argue for the truth of this position, which depends on the empirical question of whether moral functions form a natural class, but for its cogency and possibility. The position we propose combines the advantages of Kantian objectivity with the explanatory and motivational advantages of moral naturalism. It avoids problems with the epistemological inaccessibility of transcendent values, while avoiding the relativism or (...) subjectivism often associated with moral naturalism. Our position emerges out of criticisms of the contemporary sociobiological views of morality found in the writings of Richard Alexander, Michael Ruse, and Robert Richards. (shrink)
Although pride has been central to philosophical and religious discussions of emotion for thousands of years, it has largely been neglected by psychologists. However, in the past decade a growing body of psychological research on pride has emerged; new theory and findings suggest that pride is a psychologically important and evolutionarily adaptive emotion. In this article we review this accumulated body of research and argue for a naturalist account of pride, which presumes that pride emerged by way of natural selection. (...) In this view, pride is prevalent in human life because of the functional and adaptive role it has played in the attainment, maintenance, and communication of social status throughout our evolutionary history. (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.
ABSTRACTThis paper distinguishes between the theoretical scientific image and the practical scientific image. The popular idea that there is a conceptual clash between the scientific and manifest images of the world is revealed as largely illusory. From the perspective of a liberal naturalism, the placement problem for ‘problematic’ entities or truths is not solved but dissolved. Persons, say, are not posits of any explanatory science, but beings acknowledged as rational agencies in second-personal space. Core elements of the manifest image (...) are more deeply rooted in our conceptual scheme than any version of the scientific image. (shrink)
Methodological naturalism is the assumption or working hypothesis that understanding nature (the physical world including humans and their thoughts and actions) can be understood in terms of unguided laws. There is no need to Suppose interventions (miracles) from outside. It does not commit one to metaphysical naturalism, the belief that there is nothing other than nature as we can see and observe it (in other words, that atheism is the right theology for the sound thinker). Recently the Intelligent (...) Design movement has been arguing against methodological naturalism, and in this project they have been joined by the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. In this paper I examine Plantinga’s arguments and conclude not only that they are not well taken, but that he does no good service to his religion either. (shrink)
The first-person perspective is a challenge to naturalism. Naturalistic theories are relentlessly third-personal. The first-person perspective is, well, first-personal; it is the perspective from which one thinks of oneself as oneself* without the aid of any third-person name, description, demonstrative or other referential device. The exercise of the capacity to think of oneself in this first-personal way is the necessary condition of all our self-knowledge, indeed of all our self-consciousness. As important as the first-person perspective is, many philosophers have (...) not appreciated the force of the data from the first-person perspective, and suppose that the first-person perspective presents no particular problems for the naturalizing philosopher. For example, Ned Block commented, “It is of course [phenomenal] consciousness rather than...self-consciousness that has seemed such a scientific mystery.” And David Chalmers says that self-consciousness is one of those psychological states that “pose no deep metaphysical enigmas.”. (shrink)
First, The doctrine of naturalism, That reality is spatio-Temporal, Is defended. Second, The doctrine of materialism or physicalism, That this spatio-Temporal reality involves nothing but the entities of physics working according to the principles of physics, Is defended. Third, It is argued that these doctrines do not constitute a "first philosophy." a satisfactory first philosophy should recognize universals, In the form of instantiated properties and relations. Laws of nature are constituted by relations between universals. What universals there are, And (...) what relations hold between them, Must be discovered "a posteriori" by scientific investigation. (shrink)
While "moral naturalism" is sometimes used to refer to any approach to metaethics intended to cohere with naturalism in metaphysics more generally, the label is more usually reserved for naturalistic forms of moral realism according to which there are objective moral facts and properties and these moral facts and properties are natural facts and properties. Views of this kind appeal to many as combining the advantages of naturalism and realism but have seemed to many others to do (...) inadequate justice to central dimensions of our practice with our moral concepts. This entry examines some of these concerns and some ways in which moral naturalists have responded to them. It also profiles central aspects of the more particular views of some leading contemporary advocates of moral naturalism. (shrink)
This paper argues that the normative character of our unreflective situated behaviour is not factual. We highlight a problematic assumption shared by the two most influential trends in contemporary philosophy of cognitive science, reductionism and enactivism. Our intentional, normative explanations are referential, descriptive or factual. Underneath this assumption lies the idea that only facts can make true or false our attributions of cognitive, mental and agential abilities. We will argue against this view by describing the main features and problems of (...) reductionism and enactivism and then we will offer two arguments against this shared factualist assumption: (1) normative vocabulary is ineliminable if we want a complete explanation of our situated practices; and (2) the factualist assumption is a species of the is-ought fallacy. Finally, we will claim that a folk psychological explanation of our normative practices is fully compatible with ontological naturalism when such descriptivist or factualist assumption is rejected. (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)
My aim in this paper is to defend the claim that the absolute idealism of Hegel is a liberal naturalist position against Sebastian Gardner’s claim that it is not genuinely naturalistic, and also to defend the position of ‘liberal naturalism’ from Ram Neta’s charge that there is no logical space for it to occupy. By ‘liberal naturalism’, I mean a doctrine which is a non-reductive form of philosophical naturalism. Like Fred Beiser, I take the thesis of liberal (...)naturalism to find support in the idealism of Hegel. I begin by first explaining what philosophical naturalism amounts to. I then move on to show, using Finn Spicer’s and Alison Stone’s understandings of philosophical naturalism, how there is a stronger form of philosophical naturalism but also how there is a weaker form as well. Having established the distinction between stronger and weaker variants of philosophical naturalism, I discuss Sebastian Gardner’s recent objections to treating absolute idealism as a genuinely naturalist position. I argue that Gardner is incorrect to claim that absolute idealism is not a genuinely naturalist position on both historical and interpretive grounds, where to do so I bring in features of Hegel’s idealism to show that Hegel was committed to liberal naturalism. In the next section of the paper, I address Ram Neta’s charge that there is no logical space for liberal naturalism. To counter this claim, I offer an Hegelian diagnosis of Neta’s charge and argue that Neta’s concern about the possibility of liberal naturalism is illegitimately motivated. (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)
Naturalism holds that there is no higher access to truth than empirically testable hypotheses. Still it does not repudiate untestable hypotheses. They fill out interstices of theory and lead to further hypotheses that are testable.A hypothesis is tested by deducing, from it and a background of accepted theory, some observation categorical that does not follow from the background alone. This categorical, a generalized conditional compounded of two observation sentences, admits in turn of a primitive experimental test.The observation sentences themselves, (...) like ape cries and bird calls, are in holophrastic association with ranges of neural intake. Denotation of determinate objects figures neither in this association nor in deducing the categorical from the scientific hypotheses. Hence the indeterminacy of reference; ontology is purely auxiliary to the structure of theory. Truth, however, is seen still as transcendent at least in this sense: we say of a superseded scientific theory not that it ceased to be true, but that it is found to have been false. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:This essay describes three commitments that have become central to the author's philosophical outlook, namely, to liberal naturalism, to metaphysical realism, and to the epistemic and ontological objectivity of normative judgments.Liberal naturalismis contrasted with familiar scientistic versions of naturalism and their project of forcing explanations in every field into models derived from one or another particular science. The form ofmetaphysical realismthat the author endorses rejects every form of verificationism, including the author's one-time ‘internal realism’, and insists that our (...) claims about the world are true or false and not just epistemically successful or unsuccessful and that the terms they contain typically refer to real entities. ‘Representationalism is no sin’. The central part of the essay is an account oftruthbased on a detailed analysis of Tarski's theory of truth and of the insights we can get from it as well as of the respects in which Tarski is misleading. The account ofthe objectivity of the normativein this essay draws on insights from Dewey as well as Scanlon. (shrink)
The prospects for moral realism and ethical naturalism have been important parts of recent debates within metaethics. As a first approximation, moral realism is the claim that there are facts or truths about moral matters that are objective in the sense that they obtain independently of the moral beliefs or attitudes of appraisers. Ethical naturalism is the claim that moral properties of people, actions, and institutions are natural, rather than occult or supernatural, features of the world. Though these (...) metaethical debates remain unsettled, several people, myself included, have tried to defend the plausibility of both moral realism and ethical naturalism. I, among others, have appealed to recent work in the philosophy of language—in particular, to so-called theories of “direct reference” —to defend ethical naturalism against a variety of semantic worries, including G. E. Moore's “open question argument.” In response to these arguments, critics have expressed doubts about the compatibility of moral realism and direct reference. In this essay, I explain these doubts, and then sketch the beginnings of an answer—but understanding both the doubts and my answer requires some intellectual background. (shrink)
This chapter examines naturalistic accounts of mental disorder: accounts that define disorder as biological dysfunction. There are three such accounts: an eliminativist account ; a forward-looking or goal-contribution account and a backward-looking or evolutionary account. I argue first, and contra Szasz, that biological functions can be attributed at a mental level. But our mental architecture might simultaneously support many different ways of attributing function claims, which might undermine a strong naturalism about mental disorder. Second, I argue that Boorse's forward-looking (...) account of disorder as dysfunction is not value-free. Third, I argue that Wakefield's backward-looking account does not accurately map onto our disorder judgments or medical purposes. I conclude that whilst Boorse's forward-looking account of disorder as dysfunction tracks medical usage better than Wakefield's evolutionary account, a truly value-free account of mental disorder cannot be sustained. (shrink)