Naturalism’s maxims and its methods. Is naturalistic philosophy like science?


  • Carin Robinson University of KwaZulu-Natal



This paper argues that naturalistic philosophy does not meet its own empiricist mandate. It argues from an empiricist perspective. Naturalists either claim that philosophy is like science in significant ways, or they claim that philosophy ought to be like science. This paper, being chiefly focused on the former claim, argues that naturalistic philosophy is nothing like science. Using Papineau’s markers for the similarities between naturalistic philosophy and science, I argue, counter Papineau, that the method employed in naturalistic philosophy is not a posteriori and its claims are certainly not synthetic in the same way as that of science. This methodological distinction between science and philosophy is one made by Carnap. To show how the methods are distinct I compare two papers; I compare the method employed by Andy Clark in his philosophical paper on the brain as a prediction error minimisation machine with that employed by Rees and Haynes in their neuroscientific paper on mental content.

Author Biography

Carin Robinson, University of KwaZulu-Natal

last position held: postdoctoral research fellow (University of KwaZulu-Natal)


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