Mulberry on Normativity and ‘Hard Naturalism’

December 9, 2007

And now a message from  Visiting Assistant Blogger Greig Mulberry:

I’ve been thinking about this issue of different ways of framing some related sets of issues — or maybe it’s the same issue.  I mentioned naturalism v. non-reductive naturalism; you mentioned naturalism v. normativity. It might be worth, at some point, following out the way the latter terms differ, not only from each other in a general way, but more specifically how they differ from each other in how they differ from naturalism.
When I was working briefly on phil of mind some weeks ago for class, I learned a little more about emergentism.  It (as you may know) was in fashion in the first decades of the 20th c., but not so much now — at least under that name.  Recently I read that emergentism is essentially non-reductive naturalism, especially of the Davidsonian variety (which makes sense, for supervenience always sound similar to emergentism to me). 
One further way of framing some of these issues, especially relevant to this most recent project of ours, can be called the question over ‘the autonomy of the sciences.’  We’ve talked about the issue of the relation between, e.g. physics and psychology, but now I’ve found a name for it, by God.  The hard naturalist, to coin a phrase (this one is my own coinage, as far as I know), would argue against the autonomy of the sciences, I reckon.  If one takes normativity seriously, should one then necessarily defend the autonomy of the sciences?