Methodological Naturalism and the Supernatural

Mark I. Vuletic

Contemporary scientists tend to employ naturalistic methodological assumptions when carrying out their research. In fact, most contemporary scientists would argue that the scientific enterprise is inherently based upon naturalistic methodology. At the same time, they would claim that the naturalistic commitments of science do not extend beyond methodology - science, so the story goes, is incapable of saying anything about the supernatural, whether positive or negative. In this paper, I will argue that this standard picture is clearly false. This is not, however, to say that methodological naturalism entails ontological naturalism - I will argue that methodological naturalism is in principle capable of confirming a wide range of supernatural hypotheses. Secondly, I will argue that science need not be based upon methodological naturalism - that there are supernaturalistic methodologies that have approximately all of the virtues of naturalistic methodologies. Finally, I will argue that methodological naturalism nevertheless is serving the scientific enterprise very well at this point, and that scientists are right to embrace it.

Copyright © Mark I. Vuletic