Naturalism, Normativity and Explanation

Naturalism, Normativity and Explanation

by Robert Audi


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Naturalism, Normativity and Explanation by Robert Audi

This book critically examines philosophical naturalism, evaluates the prospects for naturalizing such normative properties as being a reason, and proposes a theory of action-explanation. This theory accommodates an explanatory role for both psychological properties, such as intention, and normative properties, such as having an obligation or being intrinsically good. The overall project requires distinguishing philosophical from methodological naturalism, arguing for the possibility of a scientifically informed epistemology that is not committed to the former, and freeing the theory of action-explanation from dependence on the reducibility of the mental to the physical. The project also requires distinguishing explanatory power from causal power. Explanations - at least of the kinds central in both science and everyday life - are conceived as constitutively aimed at yielding understanding. The book sketches a view of understanding that clarifies the nature of explanation, and, partly in the light of this relation, it provides a broad account of causal power on which psychological properties can possess it without being reducible to physical properties. The book concludes with an account of how, especially in the normative domain, explanations can be a priori. They may use a priori generalizations to provide understanding of what they explain, and they may clarify a priori propositions, or both. They may achieve these aims not only in logic and pure mathematics, but also in the realm of moral and other normative phenomena. The overall result is to show how philosophical understanding of both natural and normative phenomena is possible through integration with a scientific habit of mind that does not require a narrow empiricism in epistemology or a reductive naturalism in metaphysics or the theory of explanation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9788378861478
Publisher: Copernicus Center Press
Publication date: 03/04/2015
Pages: 190
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 5

Chapter 1 Naturalism as a Philosophical and Scientific Framework: A Critical Perspective 11

I The Historical and Philosophical Context 12

II Scientific Naturalism 16

III Ontoiogical Pluralism 21

IV Non-Reductive Naturalism 27

V Realist and Anti-Realist Naturalisms 29

VI Scientific Naturalism and Causal Closure 32

Chapter 2 The Nature of Normativity and the Project of Naturalizing the Normative 41

I A Cross-Disciplinary Conception of Normativity 42

II Philosophical Motivation for Naturalizing Normativity 46

III Naturalization Projects in Ethics 49

IV The Naturalization of Practical Reason 55

V Moral Perception as a Natural Phenomenon 64

VI Outline of a General Account of Normativity 69

Chapter 3 Moral Properties: Some Epistemoiogical, Ontoiogical, and Normative Dimensions 77

I Moral Properties and Their Normativity 78

II The Non-Moral Grounds of the Moral: Supervenience and Consequentiality 83

III The Epistemology of Moral Properties 87

IV The Problem of Normative Defeasibility 95

V Are Moral Properties Natural (or Naturalizable)? 98

Chapter 4 The Theory of Action-Explanation: Some Dimensions 103

I Targets of Explanation 103

II Epistemological, Ontological, and Pragmatic Aspects of Explanation 106

III Explanations Why 111

IV Explanations of Human Behavior 115

V The Problem of Mental Causation 120

VI Causes, Causal Explainers, and Mentalistic Explanation 127

Chapter 5 A Priori Explanation 137

I Framing the Issue: Preliminary Considerations 138

II A Priori Explanation, Proof, and Theoretical Method 139

III A Priori Elements in Empirical Explanation 146

IV Explanation and Understanding 148

V Explanation of Normative Propositions 154

VI Explanatory Ultimacy and the Grounding of Explanatory Facts 156

VII Conclusion 161

References 163

Index 171

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