Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Naturalism or not?

In response to what Jeff was asking let me make some clarification of my views.

To me, naturalism is not a transparent idea by any stretch of the imagination. What is it that makes something "natural?" I could say that I was a naturalist, but that my naturalism includes a lot of things most naturalists don't believe in, such as a psychons (which used to be called souls), angelons (which used to be called angels, and one triune theon, who used to be called God. The guy that directed my doctoral dissertation once came up with the idea that the "physical" or " is just what scientific theory quantifies over, some scientific theories quantify over God, therefore that would make God physical, (and therefore natural).

Is location in space and time sufficient to make something natural or physical? Well, I think it likely that the soul has a location, so does that make the soul physical? Or maybe the soul is some different kind of physical particle that science hasn't discovered yet. Surely science hasn't found everything, so we can't say that all that exists is what science has found already.

My concept of what is required for naturalism is as follows:

1. The base level, whether we call it natural, material, or physical, is causally closed.
2. Everything above that level supervenes on the physical/material/natural.
3. Physics is mechanistic. The base level lacks intentionality, purpose, normativity, and subjectivity.

An interesting question is whether Thomas Nagel comes out as a naturalist on this model. He's not a theist, be he does want to put the mental on the ground floor of reality, so he wouldn't qualify on my view. But he's an atheist. (A real one). I would recommend J. P. Moreland's response in Philosophia Christi to Mind and Cosmos.

5 comments:

cl said...

I think when you press any "naturalist" down to it, "natural" = godless. And that's really about it. Any other definition becomes to inclusive. Everything becomes natural, which makes it kinda meaningless.

IlĂ­on said...

^ That's because the distinction that really matters isn't between "natural" and "supernatural", but between Creator and Created.

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

Love your faux-scientific nomenclature! Reminds me of C.S. Lewis's "macrobes" (a.k.a. angels and demons) in That Hideous Strength.

Jezu ufam tobie

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

This post has me scratching my head. Let's review the dialectical context.

1. Victor posts an
entry
suggesting that people who adopt 'the naturalistic view' are the ones who believe in magic, not supernaturalists.

2. I publish a reply which says (1) Victor's post commits the fallacy of understated evidence, and (2) my concept of metaphysical naturalism is very different from the one Victor criticizes.

3. Victor replies to my second point by clarifying his views on the meaning of naturalism. This seems odd.

It's akin to me writing a post against 'Christianity' but, upon closer review, it turns out that what I'm really doing is presenting a case against one Christian denomination. When a Christian points that out to me, my response is, "Well, let me clarify my views on Christianity."

This suggests a general principle: if you claim to be presenting a case against position P, and someone who claims to hold P says they don't identify with your version of P, that should give you pause.

I agree with Victor that there are a variety of definitions of naturalism, even of metaphysical naturalism. But then he should say as much when he claims to refute 'naturalism.' He should say, 'There are many opinions about what naturalism means; in this post, I'm going to refute one of the more popular naturalisms out there."

Now, if we can just get Dr. Reppert to address the fallacy of understated evidence....

Crude said...

This suggests a general principle: if you claim to be presenting a case against position P, and someone who claims to hold P says they don't identify with your version of P, that should give you pause.

If your view of naturalism rejects materialism, I think it's fair to say that you've embraced a form of 'naturalism' that is idiosyncratic enough that you should seriously consider saying you're an atheist non-naturalist.

Now, if we can just get Dr. Reppert to address the fallacy of understated evidence....

I'm not Dr Reppert, obviously, but I'll give a fast reply.

1) It's not some textbook fallacy. It's apparently a fallacy Draper came up with for this instance.

2) It's assumed, but not argued for or justified, that X or Y is 'more likely on naturalism than on non-naturalism'.

And as a bonus...

3) Considering you just went through pains to chide Reppert for talking about 'naturalism' in a monolithic way, when your view is that there's a variety of naturalisms out there (some of which you apparently think are out and out false), then it would seem you're committing the same mistake you're criticizing Reppert for by referring to Draper's argument - which itself will fall victim to the reply that there's a variety of theisms and naturalisms both.