How Successful Is Naturalism? Talking about Achievements beyond Theism and Scientism

Thomas Sukopp


For Sukopp naturalism should not be confounded with “Quine’s naturalistic rhetoric.” Taking Quine as a paradigm of a naturalistic philosopher amounts to a man of straw in the naturalist/non-naturalist debate. Sukopp holds that naturalism should be understood as being open for scientific and other methods as long as standards of success such as explanatory power, economical use of explanatory means, and capacity of problem solving can be met. Hence a naturalist does not have to adhere dogmatically on natural sciences alone for his resources of explaining and interpreting reality. Because of this tolerance naturalism is not forced to neglect everything beyond physical objects, such as values and norms. Furthermore it is not problematic for naturalism to be modest in its explanatory aspirations: Qualia and free will have not been naturalized yet and maybe they never will. This, however, is no evidence against the success of naturalism. To be successful does not imply to be successful everywhere.


20th century philosophy; ontology; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; levels of naturalism; limits of naturalism; naturalism vs theism; naturalistic reseach program; Quine Willard Van Orman

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