About the Project

The starting point of our research is the observation that naturalism, inspired by the successes of natural sciences, seems to completely redefine competences and weaken the autonomy of philosophy, humanitites and social sciences. In addition, we consider also the weaker variants of naturalistic position which allow for more reciprocal cooperation between natural sciences and other domains of human knowledge.

The main aim of our research is a complex, ciritcal and metaphilosophical analysis of the nature and foundations of naturalism, the analysis of its relationship with philosophy in general, and its influence on particular philosophical subdisciplines. We also aim to evaluate the consequences which the acceptance of basic tenets of naturalism has on our conception of philosophy and on the ways we deal with its various subjects. The results of our research should illuminate the overall dynamic of the relationship between philosophy and special sciences brough about by the application of naturalistic approach towards and within philosophy.

Thematically, the research is oriented towards a general demarcation of essential features of naturalism, development of precise and systematic distinctions between its various types, and identification and evaluation of benefits and limits of attempts to naturalize various philosophical issues. An essential part of our research is also to take into account the relevant results of special sciences, as well as proposing, on the basis of historical sources of naturalism and its most promintent critiques, new perspective on given philosophical approach from the point of view of history of philosophy.

Our research is based on assumptions, according to which a) naturalism is not a monolithic system of thought, but is rather diversified according to different topics and degrees, b) from the metaphilosophical point of view, naturalism is able to provide only a restricted account of the nature of philosophy, and c) the success of naturalization is specifically limited in relation to various philosophical subdisciplines (e.g., epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, social philosophy and the philosophy of mathematics).

These assumptions lead us to formulate our basic hypothesis as follows:

There is no generally accepted form of naturalism. The benefits and limits of attempts to naturalize defined topics (the nature of philosophy, mind, human nature, epistemic and moral norms, logico-mathematical objects) are specifically differentiated within individual subject areas.

Partial Aims of Research Proposal

The proposal outlined above can be broken down into several partial goals generated by various questions which arise from contemporary theorizing of naturalism:

  1. Systematic examination of the nature of naturalism and classification of its various forms.

    "Naturalism" does not refer to one monolithic doctrine, but rather to a plurality of theories and strategies. This calls for devising a typology of different meanings and uses of the term.

  2. Development of a conceptual appartus capable to capture the ways in which naturalistic approach redefines the nature of philosophy.

    From the metaphilosophical point of view, naturalism challenges us to rethink the nature and relevancy of philosophy and humanities. Taking the natural sciences and their methodology as an ideal the philosophy should strive for, threatens the traditional role occupied by the discipline or, worse, makes it obsolete.

  3. Cost-benefit analysis of naturalistic approach within the context of specific philosophical subdisciplines.

    Naturalism in metaethics is the position that all moral facts are natural ones. This upsets the traditional dichotomy between facts and values and may lead us to rethink the concept of human nature as something that grounds the moral norms.

    Inspired by impulses from biology, linguistics, AI and cognitive sciences, naturalistically oriented strands in the philosophy of mind make attempts at reinterpretation of phenomena such as consciousness, self-consciousness or intentionality.

    Naturalistic approaches are also wide-spread in epistemology, where they push forward a research programme leaning heavily on empirical research of cognitive processes, at times even supplanting completely the traditional epistemology with such research.

    In the context of social philosophy, naturalistic point of view opens up the relationship between the biology and the social life of humans, making it impossible to theorize them separately.

    We also aim to answer the question whether it is possible to give a naturalisitc account of logico-mathematical knowledge and, more generally, to naturalize abstract objects.

  4. Interpretation of findings of empirical sciences which inspired the attempts to naturalize traditional philosophical topics.

  5. Grounding the classification of contemporary strands of naturalism in the analysis of its historical sources and critiques.

Research schedule

All the tasks involved in our research are spread throughout three stages:

July 1, 2019 - October 31, 2020: In the first, preparatory, phase, we aim to explain the nature of naturalism, of the naturalization of philosophy and of its specific areas. The findings established in this stage will be presented at a project conference which will take place in the middle of project's timeline.

November 1, 2020 - October 30, 2022: In the central phase of our research, we will deliver multidimensional and complex investigation of its main subject, as well as of specific forms it assumes in defined areas.

November 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023: Finally, we aim to evaluate and systematize partial findings established in previous phases. This will mainly involve organizing the concluding project conference and preparing publications which synthesize results of our research.