Naturalism Reconsidered

Alan Weir

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195325928
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Naturalism Reconsidered

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  • Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic
  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of Science



This article focuses on naturalism. It makes one terminological distinction: between methodological naturalism and ontological naturalism. The methodological naturalist assumes there is a fairly definite set of rules, maxims, or prescriptions at work in the “natural” sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and molecular biology, this constituting “scientific method.” There is no algorithm which tells one in all cases how to apply this method; nonetheless, there is a body of workers—the scientific community—who generally agree on whether the method is applied correctly or not. Whatever the method is, exactly—such virtues as simplicity, elegance, familiarity, scope, and fecundity appear in many accounts—it centrally involves an appeal to observation and experiment. Correct applications of the method have enormously increased our knowledge, understanding, and control of the world around us to an extent which would scarcely be imaginable to generations living prior to the age of modern science.

Keywords: naturalism; methodological naturalism; ontological naturalism; scientific method; observation and experiment; modern science

Article.  10482 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Epistemology ; Philosophy of Science

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