Problems for a Complete Naturalism

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kevin Schilbrack Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies and Department Chair (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: American naturalism has had an on-again, off-again relationship with metaphysics. Some naturalists have agreed with John Dewey who saw his approach as not only compatible with but also inseparable from"a detection and description of the generic traits of existence." Others, however, see naturalism and metaphysics as inherently opposed. Such philosophers attempt to give a complete account of reality without ever appealing to metaphysical claims, a "complete naturalism" in which all claims about the world are as contingent as those of the sciences. The ways in which one might argue for such a position are various, but in my opinion none succeeds. The goal of this essay then is to consider the three basic strategies for a complete or anti-metaphysical naturalism, and to indicate the problems involved in each.Much turns, of course, on one's definition of metaphysics. If one defines metaphysics as the inquiry into necessary existential claims, it seems that there are three possible strategies by which one might attempt to do without it. First, one might argue that there are no necessary statements at all. Second, one might distinguish between existential and nonexistential claims and predicate necessity only of the latter. Third, one might try not to argue against metaphysics, but rather permanently to avoid it by changing the subject whenever metaphysical questions are brought up.

Additional Information

Schilbrack, Kevin. 1994. “Problems for a Complete Naturalism,” American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 15:3 (September 1994): 269-91. ISSN: 0194-3448
Language: English
Date: 1994

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