Using an interactive format, workshops encourage participants
to explore their assumptions about causality, freedom, agency,
and the implications of naturalism. Workshops can be tailored
to last from 1.25 to 2.5 hours, including a 10-15 minute break.
Below is the outline of a recent workshop, "Encountering
Naturalism: From Self to Society," presented at the American
Humanist Association 2005 conference in Albuquerque. Please be
in touch if you're interested in scheduling a workshop for your
group or conference.
Encountering Naturalism: From Self to Society
Workshop presented at AHA Conference, May 7, 2005
About CFN and its mission – make naturalism known as a
Objective of workshop: to introduce a thorough-going naturalism
which extends the standard secular humanist critique of the supernatural
inwards as well as outwards; draw out the personal and social
Explore together our intuitions about human nature, human agency,
freedom, and choice.
See how a naturalistic view of ourselves based in science affects
Explore what might be the consequences of naturalism about the
Want to get your participation in working through the implications.
See what’s intuitive and counter-intuitive about a thorough-going
II. About naturalism
Naturalism as the basic operative worldview of most secular
humanists – the denial of supernatural.
Science as the naturalist’s epistemology, unites existence
into a single natural world.
History – Hume and other Enlightenment philosophers; rise
of science; not appealing to god in explanations; American naturalist
tradition - Dewey, Woodbridge, Santayana, Hook, Kurtz.
Current – naturalism as standard in academy, among humanists,
atheists, skeptics, etc., abjured by religious right, e.g., William
Dembski, Alvin Plantinga, Discovery Institute.
III. Human nature, self and freedom
Mental/physical distinction – how do we categorize the
mental vs. physical?
Experiment on thinking – the experience of mental counting.
Intuitions on Universe A (everything caused) vs. Universe B
(everything but human choosing caused).
Could have done otherwise (CHDO).
Intuitions on freedom and free will. Do we have free will? What
is it, precisely?
Intuitions on the self: who or what are we? – Descartes
IV. Choosing and deciding
The phenomenology of choice – introspection on choosing.
Comprehensive decision finder – schematic analysis of
The self as decision-maker.
V. Implications of an extended naturalism
Intuitions about the implications of challenging the soul and
Is an extended naturalism a “universal acid”?
Naturalistic responsibility: justifying credit and blame, reward
Criminal justice, addiction, social inequality.
Can humanists accept this extension of naturalism and its implications?
Many benefits if we do, but such acceptance may not be forthcoming
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