Barbara Forrest on philosophical naturalism

If you’re tired of hearing people say that science cannot address the supernatural, Barbara Forrest’s “Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism: Clarifying the Connection” is just what you want to read.

From the abstract:

I conclude that the relationship between methodological and philosophical naturalism, while not one of logical entailment, is the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion given (1) the demonstrated success of methodological naturalism, combined with (2) the massive amount of knowledge gained by it, (3) the lack of a method or epistemology for knowing the supernatural, and (4) the subsequent lack of evidence for the supernatural. The above factors together provide solid grounding for philosophical naturalism, while supernaturalism remains little more than a logical possibility.

From page 5

…the methodology of science is the only viable method of acquiring reliable knowledge about the cosmos. Given this fact, if there is no workable method for acquiring knowledge of the supernatural, then it is procedurally impossible to have knowledge of either a supernatural dimension or entity. In the absence of any alternative methodology, the metaphysical claims one is entitled to make are very strictly limited. The philosophical naturalist, without making any metaphysical claims over and above those warranted by science, can demand from supernaturalists the method that legitimizes their metaphysical claims. In the absence of such a method, philosophical naturalists can not only justifiably refuse assent to such claims, but can deny–tentatively, not categorically–the existence of the supernatural, and for the same reason they deny the existence of less exalted supernatural entities like fairies and ghosts: the absence of evidence.

Isn’t that like a nice strong sea breeze after a long stuffy afternoon in an overheated room?

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