A Surfeit of Naturalism


University of Cambridge

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Free School Lane

Cambridge CB2 3RH

United Kingdom



Philosophers have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by paying close attention to developments in the natural sciences. This insight amounts to a case for a tempered, eclectic naturalism. But the case for naturalism is often overstated. We should not overestimate the heuristic benefits of close attention to scientists’ claims, nor should we give up on traditional “armchair” philosophical methods. We should not draw solely on the natural sciences (at the expense of the humanities) when seeking to enrich and discipline our philosophical theorising. Finally, philosophers should not shy away from criticising some scientists’ claims, at the same time as they learn from others.