naturalism

In sociology and moral philosophy the term naturalism has several distinct but related uses which are frequently confused with one another. In moral philosophy, naturalism is the thesis (contra Hume's famous denial that ‘ought’ can be derived from ‘is’) that moral judgements can be deduced from (or are a type of) factual statements. In sociology, however, the most common use of the term derives from the long-running dispute about whether sociology can be a science in the same sense as the natural sciences; and, relatedly, whether its methods should be based on those of the natural sciences. Naturalism in this usage of the term (‘methodological naturalism’) is the view that sociology is, or can become, a science, and that the methods of the natural sciences-experiment, inductive generalization, prediction, statistical analysis, and so on-are directly, or by analogy, usable by sociologists. Anti-naturalists argue that a radically different methodological approach-closer to literary criticism, textual interpretation, or conversational analysis-is required.
Generally implicit in this methodological dispute are disagreements of an ontological kind about the nature of the subject-matter of sociology (and the other human sciences). In general terms, the opposition may be characterized as a dispute about whether human beings and their social life should be understood as a part of nature, continuous with the subject-matter of other sciences, or whether humans represent a radical discontinuity, a qualitative exception in the order of nature. In this area the dispute between naturalists and anti-naturalists clearly overlaps with that between materialists and idealists . However, further distinctions need to be made if we are to make sense of the different positions commonly taken up by sociologists. Ontological naturalists can themselves be divided into two broad groups. Those (such as, for example, sociobiologists ) who take the view that sociology may become a science through direct annexation as a sub-division of the existing natural sciences (evolutionary biology, in the case of the sociobiologists), may be termed ‘reductionist naturalists’. Other ontological naturalists insist that humans and their social life are a part of nature, but nevertheless recognize that language , culture , complex forms of normatively ordered social life, and so on, establish a distinct order of reality (‘emergent properties’) which poses special challenges for scientific investigation. Émile Durkheim , for example, recognized the sui generis reality of social life, its irreducibility to the facts of biology or psychology, yet advocated a methodology modelled upon that of the natural sciences.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Naturalism — • Philosophical tendency that consists essentially in looking upon nature as the one original and fundamental source of all that exists, and in attempting to explain everything in terms of nature. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006.… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • naturalism — NATURALÍSM s.n. 1. Curent sau tendinţă în artă şi literatură, care se caracterizează prin observarea riguroasă a faptelor din realitatea obiectivă, prin redarea lor fidelă, prin preferinţa pentru aspectele urâte, vulgare ale naturii omeneşti etc …   Dicționar Român

  • Naturalism —    Naturalism as a pure form was pioneered by Emile Zola, who imagined theatre as a slice of life in which romantic and sentimental elements, as well as the well made play structure, would give way to a scientific examination of unmediated… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • NATURALISM —    Naturalism (shizen shugi) is a 19th century European literary movement echoed in Meiji Japan. Related to realism, naturalism attempted to explain characters’ actions through scientific means. French author Emile Zola’s works spurred such… …   Japanese literature and theater

  • Naturalism — Nat u*ral*ism, n. [Cf. F. naturalisme.] 1. A state of nature; conformity to nature. [1913 Webster] 2. (Metaph.) The doctrine of those who deny a supernatural agency in the miracles and revelations recorded in the Bible, and in spiritual… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • naturalism — (n.) 1630s, action based on natural instincts, from NATURAL (Cf. natural) + ISM (Cf. ism). In philosophy, as a view of the world and humanity s relationship to it, from 1750. As a tendency in art and literature, from 1850 …   Etymology dictionary

  • naturalism — ► NOUN ▪ an artistic or literary movement or style based on the highly detailed and unidealized depiction of daily life …   English terms dictionary

  • naturalism — [nach′ər əl iz΄əm, nach′rə liz΄əm] n. 1. action or thought based on natural desires or instincts 2. Literature Art etc. a) faithful adherence to nature; realism; specif., the principles and methods of a group of 19th cent. writers, including… …   English World dictionary

  • naturalism — /nach euhr euh liz euhm, nach reuh /, n. 1. Literature. a. a manner or technique of treating subject matter that presents, through volume of detail, a deterministic view of human life and actions. b. a deterministic theory of writing in which it… …   Universalium

  • Naturalism — Contents 1 In the arts 2 In philosophy and science 3 Other …   Wikipedia

  • Naturalism —    The Naturalist strain of theater production and play writing in Germany was essentially a reaction to well made play conventions and a call for a more authentic environment on stage, as the term artistic came to mean unnatural. German… …   Historical dictionary of German Theatre

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.