At least since “speculative realism” became a catchword in the philosophy blogosphere, the relation between science and metaphysics has become a renewed concern. Commitment to “realism” seems to oblige some form of deference to the objectivity of scientific discourse, while commitment to “speculation” requires a relative autonomy of philosophical claims. If we are to avoid the Scylla of engaging so liberally in speculation that our claims become unjustifiable, and the Charybdis of relinquishing the legitimate concerns of metaphysics entirely over to science, we must clearly and explicitly address the character of the relation between these fields. In this spirit, Pete Wolfendale, Nick Srnicek and myself have put together a cross-blog event inviting submissions that attempt to tackle this problem.
Here is the announcement:
We are caught at the nexus of two different historical trends. First, we accept that with regard to certain questions, empirical science is the arbiter of truth. This is not to say that science is a unitary body of knowledge, but that the only standpoint from which to challenge the authority of scientific theories is from within science itself. Secondly, we accept the bankruptcy of positivism. There is more truth than that over which empirical science has dominion. Metaphysics is something other than science. Nonetheless, we cannot admit that metaphysics is completely beyond science’s authority. We cannot do this without also denying that in some sense, they have the same object – reality as it is in itself. We must thus acknowledge that there is a relation between science and metaphysics, wherein the one must somehow constrain the other, even if this constraint is somehow mutual. The question is then what exactly is this relation, and what are these constraints?
We invite submissions of 1500-2500 words on this general topic. Issues that could be addressed are:
- The methodological constraints science places on metaphysics.
- The metaphysical implications of specific aspects of modern science.
- The positive contribution of metaphysics to scientific inquiry (both in general and in particular).
- The nature of naturalism (e.g., methodological vs. substantive naturalism).
- The nature of materialism (e.g., materialism vs. physicalism).
- The necessity of concepts such as nature and matter.
- The viability of mathematical ontology (e.g., Badiou, Meillassoux, etc.) and the relation between mathematical and empirical science.
- The role of the philosophy of science in general and its relation to both scientific practice and metaphysical inquiry.