Unifying Metaphysical Pluralism

Summary

One frequently finds, both in academia and the public sphere, the conviction that, ultimately, everything can be understood in mathematico-mechanistic terms. The reality underlying the broad diversity of phenomena we are confronted with is assumed to be just a hugely complex interplay of the basic physical elements. This metaphysical assumption is typical of what I call scientism. There exists, however, a strand of scientism-opposing thought which aims to arrive at an alternative metaphysical picture (and is thus not dismissive of metaphysics altogether): scientific pluralism. It stresses that rationality, consciousness, agency, life, and our scientific practice cannot be understood mechanistically: we need to embrace a plurality of forms of understanding, mirrored in a metaphysical pluralism. This vindicates the evidently existing diversity of scientific practice as well as our evidently non-mechanistic self-understanding. However, in its enthusiasm for pluralism, this view typically overlooks that reality is a unity. The world is not partitioned into fully independent compartments studied by isolated scientific disciplines; psychology’s minds inhabit biological organisms made of chemical substances composed of physical particles. – The current project resolves this tension in the pluralist opposition to scientism in two steps. First, it develops a set of building blocks, on the basis of existing pluralist thought in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. This will result, briefly put, in pluralist conceptions of the natures of things and of causality, respectively, that are both capable of being united into an overarching (‘metametaphysical’) framework. Secondly, it integrates these building blocks into just such a framework, showing them to be articulations of an underlying unified conception of reality. The resulting unified metaphysical pluralism vindicates the actual diversity of scientific practices without implying their isolation. This opens up new perspectives on interdisciplinarity, and throws light on our self-understanding as rational beings in a natural world.

Output

Scientific article

Publication meant for a broad audience

  • D. Sprangers, D.K. Hammer, J.M. Mulder, F. Storm, A. Bos(2018): Transhumanisme

Details

Project number

275-20-068

Main applicant

Dr. J.M. Mulder

Affiliated with

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen, Departement Filosofie en Religiewetenschappen

Team members

Dr. J.M. Mulder

Duration

01/12/2017 to 31/05/2021