Inclusive Naturalism

Dr. G. W. Eichhoefer
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Associate Professor of Computer Studies
William Jewell College

It is often assumed that naturalistic explanations are inherently parsimonious and that scientific explanations are inherently naturalistic. Neither is the case. There is no global principle of parsimony which that requires naturalistic explanations. Rather, naturalistic and disciplinary agendas mandate multiple interpretations of parsimony which establish local naturalistic explanatory heuristics without deep epistemological warrant. In complex situations where explanatory factors are multiple and probabilistic, like religious phenomena or the origin of life, naturalistic explanatory heuristics cannot even incorporate all relevant naturalistic factors, let alone claim to have reflectively eliminated possible non- naturalistic factors. There is much evidence that non-naturalistic factors are at work in the world and that they are relevant to phenomena which naturalists claim to have explained in principle. What is needed is a science based upon a more "inclusive naturalism" which does not tie explanatory relevance to a naturalistic metaphysical agenda. Such an inclusively naturalistic science would incorporate all that is worthwhile in naturalistic science without confusing science with naturalism or deciding metaphysical issues by edict. A brief example of what an inclusively naturalistic explanation of a religious experience might look like is provided along with a possible theistic response.

Copyright © G. W. Eichhoefer