Seminar - Daniel Kodaj, "The Metaphysical Poverty of Naturalism"

Thursday, 13 June 2019 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CET

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Thursday, 13 June 2019 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CET

On 13 June Daniel Kodaj, winner of the Oxford University Prize for Eastern European Perspectives on Science, Theology, and Humane Philosophy will present his winning paper 'The Metaphysical Poverty of Naturalism' at a special lunchtime seminar. 


Time: 13:00, 13 June, 2019

Venue: Aquinas Seminar Room, Blackfriars Annex, 17 Beaumont Street, Oxford


Refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public, but prospective participants should register to secure a place. 


Abstract: Naturalism is unable to make sense of mind/world relations when it comes to metaphysics, and as a result, it undermines itself. The paper offers a rigorous formal proof of this claim using the concept of structure-revealing sentences (SRSs). Structure-revealing sentences carve nature at its joints, revealing the structures that constitute worldly phenomena. Naturalism can be defined as the claim that all actual phenomena can be described by a scientific SRS (§1). SRSs can come from both science and metaphysics, however, and metaphysics is capable of refining the SRSs generated by science (§2). If science is neutral between rival metaphysical theories, then a relatively straightforward modal proof shows that true metaphysical belief is impossible to naturalize (§3.1–3.2). The underlying substantive problem is that science cannot represent mind/world relations when it comes to metaphysics, since scientific descriptions are open to rival metaphysical interpretations (§3.3). The main escape routes for naturalists are (a) denying that science is metaphysically neutral or (b) opting for a “soft” version of naturalism on which some phenomena are beyond the purview of science. Both of these moves can be contested, therefore the reductio presented here may help ground a comprehensive refutation of naturalism (§4).

The Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford

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