This is part three of a series of articles on the book Naturalism: A Critical Analysis. You can find part one and part two in my blog archive.
Chapter 3: The Incompatibility of Naturalism and Scientific Realism
by Robert C. Koons
Robert Koons continues the book's assault on naturalism by arguing against the compatibility of naturalism and scientific realism. Scientific realism is simply the position that the methods and findings of science uncover objective information about really existing entities in the world. The reason a telescope displays a bright patch of light when pointed in a certain direction in space, for example, is because there's a ball of burning energy out there causing the telescope to display what it does. Many naturalists, as far as I can tell, are strongly motivated toward naturalism precisely because they think scientific realism is the correct view of reality, and they think naturalism bears the strongest commitment to such realism out of all positions on offer. Thus, Koons' thesis is extremely provocative as it targets one of naturalism's primary virtues.