Naturalism

Authored by: David Livingstone Smith

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138825758
eBook ISBN: 9781315410098
Adobe ISBN: 9781315410081

10.4324/9781315410098.ch14

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Abstract

Naturalism can be roughly characterized as the view that philosophy is, in some sense, continuous with science. There are probably very few philosophers working today who would not describe their position as, in some sense, “naturalistic.” However, this seeming unity conceals a great deal of diversity (Kitcher 1992; Rosenberg 1996; Flanagan 2008). I will not attempt to tease out, motivate, or criticize the various strands of contemporary and classical naturalism in this chapter—a task that would far exceed the space available. Instead, I will concentrate on the relevance of the two main kinds of naturalism—ontological naturalism and methodological naturalism—to the philosophy of social science. Then, extrapolating from work in the philosophy of psychology, I will focus on a problem that any naturalistically inclined philosopher of social science must grapple with: the problem of whether and how intentionalistic explanations of social phenomena can be brought into relation with non-intentionalistic ones.

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