, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 127–142

Naturalism, Science and the Supernatural


DOI: 10.1007/s11841-009-0099-2

Cite this article as:
Clarke, S. SOPHIA (2009) 48: 127. doi:10.1007/s11841-009-0099-2


There is overwhelming agreement amongst naturalists that a naturalistic ontology should not allow for the possibility of supernatural entities. I argue, against this prevailing consensus, that naturalists have no proper basis to oppose the existence of supernatural entities. Naturalism is characterized, following Leiter and Rea, as a position which involves a primary commitment to scientific methodology and it is argued that any naturalistic ontological commitments must be compatible with this primary commitment. It is further argued that properly applied scientific method has warranted the acceptance of the existence of supernatural entities in the past and that it is plausible to think that it will do so again in the future. So naturalists should allow for the possibility of supernatural entities.


Methodological naturalismOntological naturalismScientific methodSupernaturalSupernatural entitiesInference to the best explanation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program on the Ethics of the New Biosciences, James Martin 21st Century School and Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK