An Assessment of R. Scott Smith’s Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality
From the 2012 EPS annual meeting, in a panel discussion devoted to R. Scott Smith’s book, Naturalism and our Knowledge of Reality, Angus Menuge argues that naturalism presents itself as a world view founded on scientific knowledge, which seeks to reduce or eliminate various recalcitrant phenomena such as consciousness and moral values.
Most critiques of naturalism focus on its inability to do justice to these phenomena. By contrast, in Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality (Ashgate, 2012), R. Scott Smith argues that naturalism fails to account for our ability to know reality, thereby undercutting its alleged scientific foundation.
Michael Rea and Robert Koons have argued that, on naturalism, there are no well-defined objects of knowledge. Smith complements this critique by showing that, even if such objects exist, subjects will be unable to know them as they are.
Smith’s threefold argument can be understood as the intellectual revenge of Berkeley, Kant and Husserl on naturalism. At the end of the paper, Menuge suggests a couple of ways proponents of naturalized epistemology would likely respond.
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