• WISDOMfromPO-MO
    554
    Confusing ontological materialism and methodological materialism probably complicates discussions here.

    At least that is what I suspect as I read certain threads.

    Anyway:

    "Accusations of materialism in science tend to confuse two differing meanings of the word:

    Ontological materialism is the belief, or assumption, that only material matter and energy exist. For the ontological materialist anything immaterial must be the product of the material. In principle all immaterial phenomena must be reducible to (explicable by) natural laws.
    Methodological materialism is neither a belief nor an assumption but a restriction on method. Briefly stated, it holds that a non-material assumption is not to be made. Science, for example, is necessarily methodologically materialist. Science aims to describe and explain nature. Diversion into the "supernatural" or into the preternatural begins to address matters that are not natural and to obfuscate the natural.

    Methodological materialism is a defining characteristic of science in the same way that "methodological woodism" is a defining characteristic of carpentry. Science seeks to construct natural explanations for natural phenomena in the same way that carpentry seeks to construct objects out of wood. In operating in this manner neither discipline denies the existence of supernatural forces or sheet plastics, their usefulness or validity. The use of either supernatural forces or sheet plastics is simply distinguished as belonging to separate disciplines."
    -- Materialism
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    The usual expression is ‘methodological naturalism’.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    554
    The usual expression is ‘methodological naturalism’.Wayfarer

    No matter what one calls them, I sense that there is often no cognizance of the distinction between them and that that contributes to the confusion in discussions about materialism, physicalism, consciousness, etc.
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