How to Naturalize Metaphysics

June 29th, 2015, 3:00pm
Richard-Strauß-Str. 2, Cologne
room 1.A13

C. Kenneth Waters (University of Calgary)
How to Naturalize Metaphysics: Insights from Biological Practices

Scientific metaphysics can be described as an attempt to theorize about the fundamental nature of the world by drawing upon the best scientific theories of our day. An obvious way to challenge scientific metaphysics is to point out that the best scientific theories of the past turned out to be wrong about the fundamental nature of the world. I will advance the idea that instead of drawing metaphysical conclusions by interpreting the most fundamental theories that emerge from scientific practices, we should draw metaphysical conclusions by analyzing scientific practices themselves. This opens the door to drawing metaphysical conclusions from practices that do not seem to yield ‘fundamental theories’. I will illustrate this strategy for metaphysics by analyzing what is arguably the most successful scientific practice of today: the practice of investigating, manipulating, and explaining the workings of organisms. Pursuing this idea will lead me to suggest that we reconceive the sense of ‘general’ in metaphysics and to draw a metaphysical conclusion of my own about the world.