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  • Print publication year: 1998
  • Online publication date: May 2010

Mind, World and Value

Summary

Naturalism is the dominant philosophy of the age. It might be characterized as the view that the only real facts are facts of natural science, or that only statements of natural science are really true. But perhaps this scientistic formulation underestimates the depth and everydayness of the dominance of naturalism. More informally, we might say that naturalism is the view that the world is a world of natural objects and natural phenomena, that the only properties of these objects are natural properties, and the relations between them are all natural relations – in short, there are only natural facts, natural truths.

There are obvious questions to be raised about the coherence of naturalism (for example: can the truth of naturalism really be supposed to be a natural truth?); but I shall not dwell on these here. I want to put naturalism into question in a different way: by suggesting an alternative to it in the philosophy of mind which is rich enough to stop naturalism seeming compulsory.

It is often simply assumed that a good account of the mind must be naturalistic. What does this rule out? Sometimes it seems to be supposed that all that is ruled out is an account which presents the mind as something supernatural. (A particular kind of Cartesian bogeyman will be imagined.) But this is a shallow contrast which is in danger of blinding its opponents to the strength of naturalism's own commitments.