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Semester 1

Philosophical Naturalism (PHIL10220)







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**Spaces on Philosophy Honours courses are extremely limited, and so priority is given to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the Philosophy department (including Erasmus students on a Philosophy Exchange). Exchange students outside of Philosophy and independent study abroad students cannot be guaranteed enrolment in ANY 3rd/4th year Philosophy courses** Please note that 3rd year Philosophy courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces. If there is sufficient space for other visiting students to enrol at the start of the semester, visiting students must have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above to qualify for this course; we will only consider University/College level courses.

Course Summary

Naturalism as a philosophical doctrine has no one precise definition. Minimally, naturalism suggests that philosophy should in some sense be guided by science, with different forms of naturalism offering a range of proposals as to what such guidance might entail. 'Naturalism' is widely viewed as a positive term, and that a view counts as naturalist carries great weight across diverse philosophical debates. This course will expressly interrogate the notion of naturalism itself, as well as the role that naturalism plays in a number of different debates. We will consider such questions as: What is the distinction, and relation, between ontological and methodological naturalism? What is the relation between naturalism and physicalism? What arguments are offered for different forms of naturalism? How do different conceptions of naturalism impact on realism/anti-realism debates across different areas of philosophy? What alternatives to naturalism have been proposed? What implications does methodological naturalism have for philosophy itself?

Course Description

The aim of the course will be to consider and critically assess both the concept and different forms of naturalism. Naturalism as a philosophical doctrine has no one precise definition. At the same time, 'naturalism' is widely viewed as a positive term, and that a view counts as naturalist carries great weight across diverse philosophical debates. The term typically conveys some kind of connection with science. On the one hand there is the claim that we ought not to count as part of the content of reality things that are not somehow countenanced by science. There is no place in reality for "spooky" or "supernatural" entities. On the other, there is the claim that the scientific way of investigating reality is superior to all others. Both of these claims are philosophical claims and hence need to be subjected to philosophical scrutiny. Naturalism raises two broad groups of questions: (1) Questions about the relationship between philosophy and science: How might philosophy be guided by the sciences? Are science and philosophy methodologically continuous? - (2) Questions about how to explain or accommodate entities and phenomena that are not obviously countenanced by science (e.g. some mental facts, normative and evaluative facts, mathematical facts, modal facts). Do they have to be reducible to natural (or physical) facts to count as natural and thus real? This course will engage both types of questions. **Representative topics: ontological naturalism, methodological naturalism and the relation between them; physicalism, naturalism and the relation between them, reductive and non-reductive naturalism, different conceptions of naturalism (e.g. disciplinary, causal, Quinean); the relation between philosophy and science; naturalism in action in specific debates (e.g. ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of maths, modality).

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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