Naturalism and Normativity

Naturalism and Normativity

Mario De Caro
David Macarthur
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 376
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/deca13466
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    Naturalism and Normativity
    Book Description:

    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 them-yet 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50887-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION: SCIENCE, NATURALISM, AND THE PROBLEM OF NORMATIVITY
    (pp. 1-20)
    Mario De Caro and David Macarthur

    Normativity concerns what we should or ought to do and our evaluations of things or states of affairs. We normally say, for example, that one ought to keep one’s promises, that if one accepts p and “If p, then q,” one ought to accept q, or that Mozart was a better musician than Salieri. Plausibly, the sciences describe how things are, particularly the causal powers or causal regularities that exist in the world, lawlike or otherwise. Consequently, if one follows modern Scientific Naturalism in supposing that natural science, and only natural science, tells us what there is in the world,...

  4. PART I. CONCEPTUAL AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

    • 1 THE WIDER SIGNIFICANCE OF NATURALISM: A GENEALOGICAL ESSAY
      (pp. 23-54)
      Akeel Bilgrami

      Some of the philosophical debates of our time are secular echoes, indeed secular descendants, of disputation some centuries ago that was no less intense and of measurably greater and more immediate public significance. If some of this sort of significance persists in our current debates, it is seldom on the surface. This is because of our tendency in analytic philosophy to view our metaphysical and epistemological concerns in relatively autonomous terms, unburdened by any political and cultural implication or fallout. Hence, such wider significance as might still exist can only be unearthed by paying some genealogical attention to the antecedent...

    • 2 NATURALISM AND QUIETISM
      (pp. 55-68)
      Richard Rorty

      Philosophy is an almost invisible part of the contemporary intellectual life. Most people outside of philosophy departments have no clear idea of what philosophy professors are supposed to contribute to culture. Few think it worth the trouble to inquire.

      The lack of attention that our discipline receives is sometimes attributed to the technicality of the issues currently being discussed. But that is not a good explanation. Debates between today’s philosophers of language and mind are no more tiresomely technical than were those between interpreters and critics of Kant in the 1790’s.

      The problem is not the style in which philosophy...

    • 3 IS LIBERAL NATURALISM POSSIBLE?
      (pp. 69-86)
      Mario De Caro and Alberto Voltolini

      According to a commonly held view, Liberal Naturalism is not a genuine metaphilosophical option. This view is often supported by an argument in the form of a dilemma. If Liberal Naturalism grants that the most philosophically controversial items (things, properties, and events that prima facie appear to be beyond nature) are reducible to or are ontologically dependent on the entities accountable by science, then this view is not liberal enough to be distinguished from Scientific Naturalism. If, on the other hand, Liberal Naturalism denies that possibility for at least some of the aforementioned items, then, by being too liberal it...

  5. PART II. PHILOSOPHY AND THE NATURAL SCIENCES

    • 4 SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 89-99)
      Hilary Putnam

      I want to begin by considering why and how the very need for philosophy became a question (in our times, at least). A reason often given for the contemporary debate concerning the need or role for philosophy is that philosophy for so long—from the Middle Ages until the end of the nineteenth century, in fact—was so heavily invested in two “ontotheological” (i.e., metaphysical-cum-theological) ideas, namely, the idea of God (although the “God of the philosophers” was always very different from the God of the celebrated “man—or woman—on the street”),¹ and the idea of the immateriality of...

    • 5 WHY SCIENTIFIC REALISM MAY INVITE RELATIVISM
      (pp. 100-120)
      Carol Rovane

      There is a widespread and fairly longstanding assumption that realism and relativism are mutually opposed doctrines. When Kant first introduced the doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that we cannot know things as they are in themselves but only as they appear to us, given our particular forms of sensibility. He thereby left open at least the logical possibility that there might be other kinds of knowers, with other forms of sensibility different from ours, who could not know the things that we know; rather, they could only know the things that appear to them given their particular forms of...

  6. PART III. PHILOSOPHY AND THE HUMAN SCIENCES

    • 6 TAKING THE HUMAN SCIENCES SERIOUSLY
      (pp. 123-141)
      David Macarthur

      A major problem in contemporary analytic metaphysics, one that has a precedent at the end of the nineteenth century in the context of continental philosophy, is the apparent irreconcilability of the natural and the normative. This metaphysical problem can be approached by asking how to place normative phenomena in a natural scientific world—call it the placement problem.¹ This problem strikes many naturalistic philosophers today as inevitable and unavoidable. The aim of this paper is to show that this impression is mistaken, even for one committed to Scientific Naturalism.

      The placement problem is not a problem that just any scientific...

    • 7 REASONS AND CAUSES REVISITED
      (pp. 142-170)
      Peter Menzies

      What kind of theory is folk psychology? In particular, what kind of theory is intentional psychology—that part of folk psychology concerned with mental states with intentional content, such as beliefs, desires, intentions, fears, hopes, and so on? These are the questions this essay addresses. Of course, they presuppose the thesis that intentional psychology is a theory, a thesis that is much contested between so-called theory theorists and simulation theorists.¹ However, I shall not be able to enter into the debate between theory theorists and simulation theorists in this essay. Rather, I shall simply assume that folk psychology is a...

  7. PART IV. META-ETHICS AND NORMATIVITY

    • 8 METAPHYSICS AND MORALS
      (pp. 173-192)
      T. M. Scanlon

      Judgments about right and wrong and, more generally, judgments about reasons for action, seem, on the surface, to claim to state truths. They obey the principles of standard propositional and quantificational logic, and satisfy (at least most of) the other “platitudes” about truth enumerated by Crispin Wright and others.¹ Moreover, some of these judgments seem to be true, rather than false, if anything is. It would clearly be wrong for me to present a paper that was in fact written by someone else, and in light of this I have good reason not to do so (even though in some...

    • 9 THE NATURALIST GAP IN ETHICS
      (pp. 193-204)
      Erin I. Kelly and Lionel K. McPherson

      There is a truth in moral naturalism that moral cognitivists typically have shunned. Moral naturalists challenge the reason-giving authority of morality. To a certain extent, we are sympathetic to their challenge. We argue that moral reasons gain their “authority” only when they are accepted by moral agents and that persons qua rational agents do not have to accept moral reasons. Yet we agree with moral cognitivists that moral judgments are reason-sensitive and that this feature of moral judgments cannot be understood exhaustively or reducibly in the terms of psychology or biology (or, more specifically, evolution).

      Moral naturalism, as we will...

    • 10 PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE NORMATIVITY OF PRACTICAL REASON
      (pp. 205-226)
      Stephen L. White

      Hume’s account of the relation of reason to the passions implies that we can reason only about means, not ultimate ends. As Hume says, “Where a passion is neither founded on false suppositions, nor chuses means insufficient for the end, the understanding can neither justify nor condemn it. ’Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.”¹ Should someone fail to care about the things we value, about the welfare of others, or even about his or her own welfare, there are, on Hume’s account, no rational grounds for criticism.²...

  8. PART V. EPISTEMOLOGY AND NORMATIVITY

    • 11 TRUTH AS CONVENIENT FRICTION
      (pp. 229-252)
      Huw Price

      In a recent paper, Richard Rorty begins by telling us why pragmatists such as himself are inclined to identify truth with justification:

      Pragmatists think that if something makes no difference to practice, it should make no difference to philosophy. This conviction makes them suspicious of the distinction between justification and truth, for that distinction makes no difference to my decisions about what to do.¹

      Rorty goes on to discuss the claim, defended by Crispin Wright, that truth is a normative constraint on assertion. He argues that this claim runs foul of this principle of no difference without a practical difference:...

    • 12 EXCHANGE ON “TRUTH AS CONVENIENT FRICTION”
      (pp. 253-262)
      Richard Rorty and Huw Price

      My off-the-cuff reaction is: why wouldn’t the need for cooperative action take the place of your third norm? We don’t automatically disapprove when we encounter disagreement in belief. I think chocolate disgusting; you think it delicious. I affirm and you reject the filioque clause in the Creed. But, as genial, tolerant, easygoing types we wouldn’t dream of disapproving of each other for that reason. But if we are building a house together and I think we need fifteen rafters to make sure the roof holds up and you think ten will do, we have a problem, and we start disapproving...

    • 13 TWO DIRECTIONS FOR ANALYTIC KANTIANISM: NATURALISM AND IDEALISM
      (pp. 263-286)
      Paul Redding

      Usually, analytic philosophy is thought of as standing firmly within the tradition of empiricism, but recently attention has been drawn to the strongly Kantian features that have characterized this philosophical movement throughout a considerable part of its history.¹ Those charting the history of early analytic philosophy sometimes point to a more Kantian stream of thought feeding it from both Frege and Wittgenstein, countering a quite different stream flowing from the early Russell and Moore.² In line with this general reassessment, Michael Friedman, for example, has pointed to the specifically Kantian features of the approach of Carnap and other members of...

  9. PART VI. NATURALISM AND HUMAN NATURE

    • 14 HOW TO BE NATURALISTIC WITHOUT BEING SIMPLISTIC IN THE STUDY OF HUMAN NATURE
      (pp. 289-303)
      John Dupré

      A good start for understanding naturalism is the idea that in describing the world we should appeal to Nature rather than, for instance, Pure Reason or the interpretation of Holy Writ. Of course, appealing to Nature isn’t such an easy matter. We can’t just ask her, because she doesn’t speak. Perhaps Francis Bacon was nearer to the mark when he suggested that we needed to torture her. But even apart from the unpleasantness of the metaphor, and the genuine possibility that it may legitimate unpleasant actions, the messages elicited from Baconian acts of torture require a good deal of interpretation....

    • 15 DEWEY, CONTINUITY, AND MCDOWELL
      (pp. 304-321)
      Peter Godfrey-Smith

      John Dewey’s voluminous output includes substantial work in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. Within analytic philosophy, the implicit conclusion drawn for some decades now has been that Dewey is not especially relevant or useful in these areas. He is seen, I suspect, as well-meaning but lacking rigor and as not grappling effectively with the issues that are most alive to us now. I argue here for the contemporary relevance, as well as the intrinsic merit, of some of Dewey’s ideas on these topics. The area I will look at is general discussion of the relation between...

    • 16 WITTGENSTEIN AND NATURALISM
      (pp. 322-352)
      Marie McGinn

      The concepts of human nature, natural human reactions and interests, and human natural history are pervasive in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. The idea that our language-games rest on “very general facts of nature,”¹ or that if certain things were different from what they are, “this would make our normal language-games lose their point” (PI, 142), is an important theme of his later work. The notions of form of life and language-game and the emphasis on our everyday practice, our education and training, and the application of linguistic techniques all serve to draw the reader’s attention to “the spatial and temporal phenomenon...

  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 353-356)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 357-368)