How do scientific findings bear on our inquiries about the perennial philosophical questions?
I have defended and pursued a naturalistic approach to epistemology, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of the cognitive and brain sciences. Philosophical naturalism holds that the history of Western philosophy is, in part, a history of philosophy spawning new empirical sciences—a process that has inevitably resulted in those sciences returning to advance claims about topics that philosophers had, until that time, regarded as philosophy’s privileged territories. Philosophical naturalists need not hold that those new scientific theories, findings, and methods will solve philosophers’ perennial questions (for example, about such matters as human nature, values, and meaning), but they do hold that philosophers’ inquiries about such matters will be done less responsibly than they should be if they are inattentive to those new scientific insights.
It is within such a naturalistic framework that I have fathomed some of the ways that the findings from the social, cognitive, and brain sciences might bear on our conceptions of knowledge, perception, learning, science, mind, and consciousness. I have developed, in particular, proposals about what I call “maturationally natural” perception, cognition, and action and (in collaboration with William Bechtel) the heuristic identity theory (HIT).