An interesting book by Thomas W. Clark came my way recently. Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and its Uses is a well-written, short (101 pages) book that serves as a very readable, non-academic introduction to naturalism. It’s very light on scientific and other technical considerations, focusing instead on other questions readers new to naturalism might have.
One aspect of the book that I found particularly interesting, perhaps because it’s the sort of thing I haven’t paid much attention to, is the way it concentrates on issues concerning our lack of godlike free will and the implications of this lack for our notions of responsibility in justice and even psychotherapy. Since such matters of applied ethics are far outside what I feel competent commenting about, I naturally can’t judge Clark’s views on responsibility. They seem plausible to me (especially since I think most traditional views of “free will” are barely a cut above superstition), and they don’t raise any immediate red flags. And even if I know very little about issues of justice or therapy, I think there are some interesting and important questions here for scientific naturalists. Therefore I recommend Clark’s book.
Clark also runs the Center For Naturalism, a very useful resource in its own right.
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