[quote author=“wesmjohnson”]You wrote:
Metaphysics is the study of the structure of reality. Some people, it is true, believe that there are parts of reality that are ‘supernatural’, like souls or gods. That would be their metaphysics. Others (naturalists) believe that only the natural world is real. That would be our metaphysics.
Is “our” metaphysics a belief? Do we not have powerful evidence that only the natural world is real?
I’m not sure what you mean when you say “our metaphysics is a belief”. I mean, of course our metaphysics is a belief of ours, an opinion, based on the best evidence we have.
Basically, the idea is that our best metaphysics comes from our best epistemic method: the method of science. Hence, what science tells us is true about the world should make up our metaphysics.
[quote author=“wesmjohnson”]Dr. Johnson’s First Observation: “Everything interesting happens on an interface.” The region of overlap (interface) between science and metaphysics is interesting. I would expect that such overlap moves with time. That is, as the method of science provides answers those issues move into “our” metaphysical space (reality). Over time more of “their” metaphysical issues disappear. Sort of; any sufficiently advanced technology… This could be the reason staunch believers cannot accept evolution.
Yes, this reminds me also of Neil Tyson’s wonderful essay “The Perimeter of Ignorance”, where he notes that throughout time, god’s work was identified with that part of the physical world that we could not understand. First it was the motions of the planets, now it is biological and mental features.
As parts of science become more settled, they become less metaphysically interesting: nobody denies the metaphysics of planetary motion, whereas this was one of the hottest topics on earth when Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Giordano Bruno were writing. Bruno was even burned at the stake for his metaphysical musings on the topic!
I think it is correct to say that all the branches of the sciences are branches of metaphysics, but we conventionally think only of the more ‘cutting edge’ parts as being philosophically interesting enough to call “metaphysics”, because we’ve sort of already worked out our feelings about the sun being at the center of the solar system, for instance. That’s no longer interesting, so we don’t, as it were, raise it to the level of “metaphysics” in our minds.
[quote author=“wesmjohnson”]I suspect that such an interface has been the subject of books or at least dissertations. Who might have addressed that issue?
Offhand I don’t know. Of course, there are hundreds of great books about metaphysics and about philosophy of science; only a few people can do both very well, and most of those people tend to write for specialist audiences. (If you’re interested I can look into it). But I’d expect Bertrand Russell (to take one example) to have pretty good things to say at the level of a general audience. He also has a wonderful style.
[quote author=“wesmjohnson”]I also have the sense that we are not being precise. :? You mentioned “our” metaphysics and “their” metaphysics as beliefs. You then mentioned an overlap between science and metaphysics. Science is a method. I’m confused. :?
Yes, I’m taking “us” to be naturalists, and “them” to be super-naturalists (theists, dualists, etc.).
The difference between “us” and “them” is at least in part a difference in our metaphysics.
Science is a method, but it reliably produces true beliefs about the world. In fact, it is (so far as we know) the most reliable method to produce true beliefs about the world. So our metaphysics should be based on the results of scientific theorizing, and not, for example, on so-called theological “revelation”.