Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.

Friday, November 21, 2008

2008 EPS Papers (Smith)

R. Scott Smith

Naturalism, Our Knowledge of Reality, and Some Implications for Christian Physicalists

Abstract: One of ontological naturalism's greatest perceived strengths is our ability on that basis to know reality. Several naturalists (e.g., Tye, Dretske, and Papineau) argue that we reality directly. Yet, they realize that they must given an account of intentionality, which for many has been considered the hallmark of the mental. They even grant much of what dualists say must be true of intentionality. But, they argue that intentional states are reducible to brain states, yet brain states may be conceptualized as intentional. Alternatively, Daniel Dennett thinks intentionality is just attributions we make of certain physical systems from the intentional stance.

Here, we may learn an important lesson for naturalism: without any intrinsically intentional states, nothing will be given to us; all experience, and all knowledge, will be our taking things to be certain ways, without any way to get started or know how reality truly is.

There are implications for Christian physicalists, too. If they leave no place for intrinsic intentionality, the lessons will be the same. Suppose though that someone allows for emergent, irreducibly intentional states that simply are of their objects. But, I shall argue that this move will be sufficient for us to know reality.

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