Dugald Stewart, Theism and the Philosophy of Science

David K. Nartonis, Ph. D.
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Boston MA

Although he intended to protect an important role for theology, Dugald Stewart actually showed John Stuart Mill and others the way to make theism irrelevant to the scientific enterprise. In his Elements of the Philosophy of the Mind of 1792, Stewart formulated a purely instrumental philosophy of science for theistic reasons. Stewart's view of science was widely influential in English-speaking countries and France. For example, American colleges replaced Locke's Essay with Stewart's Elements in the early 19th century and early editions of Mill's System of Logic contain numerous footnotes to Stewart. This paper will follow the steps in which Stewart used what he learned from Hume and Berkeley to modify Locke's view of science and arrive at his own. At each point Stewart's theistic reasoning will be examined. Our discussion of naturalism in science today will be stimulated and enriched by this example of the way science and theism were historically disconnected.

Copyright © David K. Nartonis