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- 1: action, inclination, or thought based only on natural desires and instincts
- 2: a theory denying that an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically : the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena
- 3: realism in art or literature; specifically : a theory or practice in literature emphasizing scientific observation of life without idealization and often including elements of determinism
Naturalism is divided into two philosophical stances:
- Methodological naturalism (or scientific naturalism) which focuses on epistemology: This stance is concerned with knowledge: what are methods for gaining trustworthy knowledge of the natural world? It is an epistemological view that is specifically concerned with practical methods for acquiring knowledge, irrespective of one's metaphysical or religious views. It requires that hypotheses be explained and tested only by reference to natural causes and events. Explanations of observable effects are considered to be practical and useful only when they hypothesize natural causes (i.e., specific mechanisms, not indeterminate miracles). Methodological naturalism is the principle underlying all of modern science. Some philosophers extend this idea, to varying extents, to all of philosophy too. Science and philosophy, according to this view, are said to form a continuum. W.V. Quine, George Santayana, and other philosophers have advocated this view.
- Metaphysical naturalism, (or ontological naturalism or philosophical naturalism) which focuses on ontology: This stance is concerned with existence: what does exist and what does not exist? Naturalism is the metaphysical position that "nature is all there is, and all basic truths are truths of nature."