On the Prospects for Naturalism

In Simon Baumgartner, Thimo Heisenberg & Sebastian Krebs (eds.), Metaphysics or Modernity? Bamberg University Press (2013)
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Contemporary naturalism has two components. The first is ontological, and says, roughly, that all and only what the sciences say exists, really does exist. The other is methodological, and it says that only scientific explanations are legitimate explanations. Together these commitments promise a coherent picture of the world that is nicely integrated with an attractive epistemology. Despite the obvious appeal of naturalism, I would like to sound a note of caution. First, I would like to argue that naturalism's ontological commitment cannot be vindicated. Not, that is, that it is false; rather, I argue that any attempt to show that it is true presupposes that it is not. Second, I argue that methodological naturalism is false. But, again, the problem is not straightforward. I will not claim that there are gaps in the explanations offered by science, such that the scientific project would be incomplete without emendation. Instead I argue that the goodness of an explanation depends, in part, on how the event to be explained is described, and that, some events, under some descriptions, call for non-scientific explanations.
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