In much recent work in analytic philosophy, naturalism seems to have become the approach many philosophers swear allegiance to, even though there is no clear consensus yet as to what this allegiance really demands. For many, endorsing naturalism consists in adopting a set of starting points that are indispensable for fruitful work in various areas, with the predominant starting point being the claim that the methods of science are the only dependable ones for philosophy and for any other discipline. The plausibility of this assumption, however, and of others closely associated with it, has recently been questioned.1 The very idea of naturalism, whatever it may mean in detail, depends on the idea of nature, but this latter concept, in spite of being regularly used within many philosophical debates, has not yet received in recent scholarship the philosophical scrutiny it deserves.
This book attempts to answer this need. It starts by acknowledging that there is tension, even signs of inconsistency, within the way many individuals, including philosophers, think about nature. In other words, it concedes that there is not just one concept of nature but many. Although many philosophers have a habitual respect towards all that science has to say about nature, and therefore assume that science can supply the one correct concept of nature, some are nevertheless persuaded that there is more to nature than what these sciences tell us. As to what this “more” might mean, however, there is no clear consensus. So this book...
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