Philosophical Naturalism and Methodological Naturalism: Strange Bedfellows?
This paper argues that philosophical naturalists ought to reject methodological naturalism in science. When linked to methodological naturalism, philosophical naturalism moves toward a kind of epistemic fundamentalism. Joined with methodological naturalism, philosophical naturalism can never be scientifically disconfirmed but will always be confirmed—no matter what the empirical evidence—whereas ‘God hypotheses,’ a chief rival, can never be scientifically confirmed but can be pragmatically disconfirmed—again, regardless of the evidence. This essay will instead recommend that philosophical naturalists adopt a two-tier conception of science: in private they should retain methodological naturalism but in the public square they should adopt a pluralistic conception of science that allows for the genuine confirmation of philosophical naturalism and genuine disconfirmation of God hypotheses.
Keywords: Philosophical Naturalism, Methodological Naturalism, Science, God Hypothesis
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, St Edward's University