Event Detail

Tue Sep 29, 2009
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
NOTE: New date
Townsend Visitor
Bas C. van Fraassen (San Francisco State University and Princeton University)
Against Naturalism: a Parting of the Ways in Philosophy

Empiricism, as a philosophical position, is associated first of all with a distinctive view of science as aiming at adequate representation of the phenomena rather than discovery of any deeper reality ‘behind’ the phenomena. What further views, on other philosophical issues, can be palatable to an empiricist? I’ll explore this with reference to philosophical naturalism, metaphysical realism, and the transcendence of the Self.

Lecture 1

Philosophical naturalism, from the 1944 School of Naturalism of Columbia University to Quine and Maddy, proclaims itself as a stance rather than a thesis or dogma. What precisely characterizes that stance, how does it differ from empiricism or realism? While naturalism comes in many shapes and flavors, it tends to imply a starting point for philosophical analysis that may subtly sabotage the analysis itself. My focus here will be entirely on naturalism in epistemology and philosophy of science, with metaphysics left aside.

Kim, Jaegwon “The American Origins of Philosophical Naturalism” pp. 83-98 in Robert Audi (Ed.) Philosophy In America At The Turn Of The Century. APA Centennial Supplement to Journal of Philosophical Research 28 (2003)

Maddy, Penelope “Naturalism: Friends and Foes”. Philosophical Perspectives 15 (2001): 37-67.

van Fraassen, Bas C. “Against Naturalized Empiricism”, pp. 68-88 in P. Leonardi and M. Santambrogio (eds.) On Quine. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995; available at http://www.princeton.edu/~fraassen/Against-SANMARIN.pdf