Naturalism in Action


Can a naturalist earn the right to talk of a shared empirical world? Hume famously thought not, and contemporary stipulative naturalists infer from this inability that the demand is somehow unnatural. The critical naturalist, by contrast, claims to earn that right. In this paper, I motivate critical naturalism, arguing first that stipulative naturalism is question begging, and second, that the pessimism it inherits from Hume about whether the problem can be solved is misplaced. Hume's mistake was to mis-identify exemplary contexts of thought: thought is a kind of action, better exemplified at the backgammon table or the dinner party than in the study. By earning the right to this environment-involving conception of thought, the critical naturalist can address, rather than avoid, the explanatory problem Hume uncovered

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Michael R. Hicks
Miami University, Ohio

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