Liberal Naturalism and the Second-Personal Realm
A/Prof David Macarthur (University of Sydney)

September 15, 2015, 4:00pm - 5:30pm
European Philosophy and the History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI), Deakin University

Burwood Corporate Centre (level 2 - Building BC)
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood 3125


  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Deakin University


Scientific Naturalism is a widely popular position in contemporary metaphysics. Naturalists of this stripe are centrally concerned with what has come to be called “the placement problem”: how do we find a “place” for, e.g., mind, meaning, and morals, in the scientific image of the world? In this talk I mean to argue – on the basis of distinguishing theoretical and practical versions of the scientific image – that this problem is misconceived even from within the perspective of scientific naturalism. The default position for naturalism is not Scientific Naturalism but a Liberal Naturalism which opens up the hitherto neglected realm of non-supernatural non-scientific entities. This realm arguably includes those things that are presupposed in the practice of science, e.g., people (scientists), artifacts (e.g. tables) and meaningful communication (e.g. scientific conferences & journals). The claim that these things are non-scientific depends on the idea that the correct deployment of the relevant concepts constitutively depends on what “we” take-as instances of such things as fellow speakers within a linguistic community. Liberal Naturalism thus opens up into a philosophical exploration of interpersonal space or what we might call 2nd-personal realm.

David Macarthur is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney.  His philosophical interests are wide-ranging.  He has written articles on scepticism, pragmatism, metaphysical quietism, the meaning of naturalism, Wittgenstein, and philosophy of art and architecture.

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