Volume 12, Issue 1, 2010
Stephen C. Dilley
Philosophical Naturalism and Methodological Naturalism
This essay argues that philosophical naturalists who draw epistemic support from science for their worldview ought to set aside methodological naturalism in certain historical sciences. When linked to methodological naturalism, philosophical naturalism opens itself to several problems. Specifically, when joined with methodological naturalism, philosophical naturalism can never be scientifically disconfirmed but will nearly always be confirmed, no matter what the empirical evidence. Theistic-friendly “God hypotheses,” on the other hand, can never be scientifically confirmed—again, no matter what the evidence—but are routinely said to be disconfirmed. Methodological naturalism not only leads to this self-serving dynamic, but does not appear to serve a meaningful epistemic purpose in the contest between philosophical naturalism and theism and so, for these reasons, ought to be set aside.