Tag Archives: Hilary Bok

Reports from the Moving Naturalism Forward workshop

The workshop I described in Moving Naturalism Forward took place – with a few amendments. A half day was lost because of the super storm Sandy. And medical issues led to Patricia Churchland, Lisa Randall, and Hilary Bok cancelling at the last minute. Pity – I was looking forward to all those contributions.

Turns out that the workshop basically centred on discussions and not presentations. I think these will be fascinating, considering the calibre of the scientists and philosophers present. And the fact that there are clear issues of difference between many of them.

Videos of the discussions should be up in the near future at the Moving Naturalism Forward website.

Until then we have reports about the workshop from three of the participants to go on with:

Sean Carroll‘s first report is up on his blog Cosmic Variance:
Nudging Naturalism Just a Bit Forward
He intends to post more in the coming days – probably about three.

Massimo Pigliucci has posted three reports on his blog Rationally Speaking
From the naturalism workshop, part I
From the naturalism workshop, part II
From the naturalism workshop, part III

And Jerry Coyne has post the power-point presentation he used on his blog Why Evolution is True:
My presentation on Free Will
He also has posted a summary of then workshop:
Moving Naturalism Forward: my summary, and a comment on Carroll’s assessment:
Sean Carroll assesses the Stockbridge workshop

In a nice little twist Jerry collected signatures from the workshop participants on the title page of a copy of his book Why Evolution Is True. In his post Loosen those wallets he undertakes to sell this with “every penny” going Doctors Without Borders?

That’s quite a souvenir.

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Moving Naturalism Forward

Click to enlarge. Credit: XKCD

If you are interested in the philosophy of science here’s something to look forward to. At the end of next week, October 25 – 29 a workshop – Moving Naturalism Forward – will occur in  Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

What’s more, for us so far away, the workshop will be videoed and videos will be on-line as soon as possible after the workshop finishes. They are bound to be fascinating as the questions covered will possibly include:

  • Free will. If people are collections of atoms obeying the laws of physics, is it sensible to say that they make choices?
  • Morality. What is the origin of right and wrong? Are there objective standards?
  • Meaning. Why live? Is there a rational justification for finding meaning in human existence?
  • Purpose. Do teleological concepts play a useful role in our description of natural phenomena?
  • Epistemology. Is science unique as a method for discovering true knowledge?
  • Emergence. Does reductionism provide the best path to understanding complex systems, or do different levels of description have autonomous existence?
  • Consciousness. How do the phenomena of consciousness arise from the collective behavior of inanimate matter?
  • Evolution. Can the ideas of natural selection be usefully extended to areas outside of biology, or can evolution be subsumed within a more general theory of complex systems?
  • Determinism. To what extent is the future determined given quantum uncertainty and chaos theory, and does it matter?

Here’s a list of the participants, together with field. Have a look art the list of participants for more information on affiliation, books and websites.

It’s an impressive list and  I know there are some differences – so look forward to lively debates.

It’s about time somebody sensible discussed what is meant by “naturalism” and how it relates to science.

(No. Alvin Plantinga hasn’t been invited).

Sean Carroll, Physics
Hilary Bok, Philosophy
Patricia Churchland, Neuroscience/Philosophy
Jerry Coyne, Biology
Richard Dawkins, Biology
Terrence Deacon, Anthropology
Simon DeDeo, Complex Systems
Daniel Dennett, Philosophy
Owen Flanagan, Philosophy
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Philosophy/Literature
Janna Levin, Physics/Literature
Massimo Pigliucci, Philosophy
David Poeppel, Neuroscience
Lisa Randall, Physics
Alex Rosenberg, Philosophy
Don Ross, Economics
Steven Weinberg, Physics