Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
Naturalism in Question

Naturalism in Question

Edited by Mario De Caro and David Macarthur

ISBN 9780674030411

Publication date: 12/15/2008

Today the majority of philosophers in the English-speaking world adhere to the "naturalist" credos that philosophy is continuous with science, and that the natural sciences provide a complete account of all that exists--whether human or nonhuman. The new faith says science, not man, is the measure of all things. However, there is a growing skepticism about the adequacy of this complacent orthodoxy. This volume presents a group of leading thinkers who criticize scientific naturalism not in the name of some form of supernaturalism, but in order to defend a more inclusive or liberal naturalism.

The many prominent Anglo-American philosophers appearing in this book--Akeel Bilgrami, Stanley Cavell, Donald Davidson, John Dupré, Jennifer Hornsby, Erin Kelly, John McDowell, Huw Price, Hilary Putnam, Carol Rovane, Barry Stroud, and Stephen White--do not march in lockstep, yet their contributions demonstrate mutual affinities and various unifying themes. Instead of attempting to force human nature into a restricted scientific image of the world, these papers represent an attempt to place human nature at the center of renewed--but still scientifically respectful--conceptions of philosophy and nature.


  • Naturalism in Question is undertaking an important task—to address the prevalence of scientific naturalism as the paradigm of serious philosophical work in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. The fact that such eminent philosophers as Davidson, Cavell, McDowell, Stroud, and Putnam are brought together around a common issue is itself an attractive feature. It provides a certain landscape of contemporary American Philosophy that is most important to bring into view. It shows that despite all their obvious differences, such philosophers can be seen as sharing a similar concern to revive a form of philosophy that does not model its rigor on problematic pictures of scientific work.

    —Eli Friedlander, author of Signs of Sense: Reading Wittgenstein’s Tractatus


  • Mario De Caro is Hilary Putnam’s literary executor and Professor of Moral Philosophy at Roma Tre University. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, a regular visiting professor at Tufts University, and author of five volumes in Italian.
  • David Macarthur is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. With Mario De Caro, he edited Naturalism in Question, Naturalism and Normativity, and Hilary Putnam’s Philosophy in an Age of Science. He also edited Hilary and Ruth Anna Putnam’s Pragmatism as a Way of Life.

Book Details

  • 350 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press