“Philosophy recovers itself when it ceases to be a device for dealing with the problems of philosophers and becomes a method, cultivated by philosophers, for dealing with the problems of men.” – John Dewey, quoted by Menand, Metaphysical Club.
I’m working on a paper on whether Nz is a naturalist, so I’ve been forced to think about what naturalism is. I don’t think it’s enough to simply say “it’s the denial of supernatural stuff” (since then I need to know what “supernatural” is) or to say “it’s what physicists/chemists/biologists presume for their theories” (since you actually don’t need to be a naturalist to be a card-carrying natural scientist, or to propose a theory).
So I’ve hit upon two core features of naturalism — or I think they’re core features; any objections?
1. Theories should be nonteleological, meaning that –ultimately — what forces change in a system can be adequately described without reference to any future state of the system.
2. Any predicate required by a theory should be attributable intersubjectively — i.e., there should be some public sort of measurement or procedure to determine whether that predicate is rightly attributed to an individual or system.
This doesn’t force a naturalist to be a materialist, and I think that’s a good thing (though in fact I think materialism is true). It also doesn’t presume determinism is true, which again seems right. I can’t think of a theory I’d call “naturalist” that isn’t (in the above senses) nonteleological and intersubjective. Am I missing anything?