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Title: Methodological naturalism in the sciences
Contributor(s): Boucher, Sandy C  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2020-08
Early Online Version: 2019-09-17
DOI: 10.1007/s11153-019-09728-9
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Abstract: Creationists have long argued that evolutionary science is committed to a dogmatic metaphysics of naturalism and materialism, which is based on faith or ideology rather than evidence. The standard response to this has been to insist that science is not committed to any such metaphysical doctrine, but only to a methodological version of naturalism, according to which science may only appeal to natural entities and processes. But this whole debate presupposes that there is a clear distinction between the natural and the supernatural, and thus that naturalism is a meaningful doctrine. I argue that this assumption is false. The concepts of the natural and the supernatural are in fact hopelessly obscure, such that the claim that science is committed to methodological naturalism cannot be made good. This is no victory for anti-naturalists however; explicitly supernaturalist theories, such as Creationism, can be ruled out of scientific consideration as a priori incoherent, given that they presuppose for their intelligibility that there is a meaningful natural-supernatural distinction. This is not the case for standard scientific theories however, as they are not explicitly naturalistic theories; they do not postulate natural or physical entities or processes as such.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 88(1), p. 57-80
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Place of Publication: Netherlands
ISSN: 1572-8684
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science)
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 500204 History and philosophy of science
500316 Philosophy of religion
500317 Philosophy of science (excl. history and philosophy of specific fields)
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 280119 Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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