Re: Methodological naturalism

John W Burgeson (
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 16:10:24 -0700

Phil wrote to me:

" I've done my best to explain why the
distinction between MN and philosophical naturalism is illusory. What
think of it is up to you."

Aha. At last (at long last) I think I understand your POV. Your position
is that PN and MN are, in all essentials, one and the same.

Of course I don't agree, but at least I understand you better. If I were
to equate the two, I probably would think along the same track you do.

My apologies for being slow of mind on this. I've read (and own) about
everything you've written and somehow that point never came through. The
error is mine.

How can I bring myself to agree with your assertion (MN = PN)? Perhaps I
could do so by observing that most (not all) PNs would agree with you. I
say "not all," for I've met a few PNs who do see, very clearly, a
distinction, as I do. But it is not difficult for me to believe that MOST
PNs would agree.

Here is the problem then:

Most PNs agree that PN+MN for all essential purposes. A few disagree and
may be safely ignored.

But most scientists of my own acquaintance, on the LISTSERVs or
otherwise, hold to a MN operational procedure and see that as different
in kind from PN. My experiences, of course, may be highly skewed; I can
accept that possibility. Your experiences with scientists is almost
surely much greater than mine; perhaps you, unlike me, find very few
(outside of this LISTSERV of course) who see a distinction between MN and
PN. That seems to be possible, and if hat were my experience, I might
well go along with you on the MN=PN assertion. But even then it would be
a hard thing to do -- for I really really do see a distinction.

I appreciate your taking the time to discuss this, Phil. Even though we
differ, I appreciate your efforts and, our difference noted, support

Best & blessings...


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