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Allies of Naturalism

As naturalism makes headway as a worldview, there are many allies of the Center for Naturalism out there doing good work to advance the cause. Some are listed below, and more will be added as they are discovered. Are you an ally of naturalism? If so, please make your presence known, and (or direct us to) your papers, analyses, and other items that pertain to applying naturalism to our personal lives and social policy. Those asterisked* below are on the CFN Advisory Board.

Contributors to the CFN qualifying as Allies of
Naturalism (and wanting to be listed as such) are here.

Julian Baggini, co-editor of Philosopher's Magazine and author of Atheism: A Very Short Introduction and several other books.

Susan Blackmore* is a British psychologist who has promoted naturalistic theories of consciousness, near-death experiences and free will in books including Consciousness: An Introduction, and The Meme Machine.

Paul Bloom*, psychologist at Yale and author of Descartes' Baby, sees that the coming debate between science and dualist worldviews is about the existence of the soul and human agency. He spoke at Harvard at the invitation of the CFN in February, 2005.

Glenn Borchardt, director of the Progressive Science Institute in Berkeley, CA is author of The Scientific Worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein, which begins and ends with naturalism.

Richard Carrier has long championed a naturalistic worldview, and has published Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism.

William Casebeer, philosopher, cognitive scientist and author of Natural Ethical Facts (among other books), seeks to show that we need not appeal to supernatural foundations to understand ourselves as moral beings, or to have good reasons to treat each other ethically.

Andreas Dietz, teaches geography, ethics and social studies at a public boarding school in Meissen, Germany. His website is www.naturalismus.info.

Richard Double, at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, is an expert on the free will problem and author of The Non-Reality of Free Will and Metaphilosophy and Free Will. He draws out some of the problematic consequences of the myth of the self-made self in his paper The Moral Hardness of Libertarianism.

Gary Drescher, computer scientist and independent scholar, has written Good and Real: Demystifying Paradoxes from Physics to Ethics, now out from MIT press. This looks to be one of the most insightful and revolutionary explorations of no-holds-barred naturalism we've seen in quite some time, reviewed here.

Sheldon Drobny*, venture capitalist and co-founder of the Nova M progressive radio network, supports naturalism as the unifying philosophy of humanists, atheists and freethinkers.

Cris Evatt is the author of The Myth of Free Will: Essays & Quotes by 50 of the World's Leading Thinkers, a  mainstream-friendly book that gently demystifies, deflates and debunks human agency. This and her other  books can be found at www.crisevatt.com.

Owen Flanagan*, professor at Duke University, has written what might be the best single book on naturalism and why it's not a threat to anything we hold near and dear, but rather the best way forward. See The Problem of the Soul.

Harold Fromm writes on science and the humanities from a thoroughly naturalistic perspective, see for instance his Muses, Spooks, Neurons, and the Rhetoric of “Freedom”.

Arlene Germain is the co-founder and president of the Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, www.manhr.org, which promotes quality and "Culture Change" in long-term care. 

Joshua Greene, an experimental psychologist at Harvard, has co-authored a first class paper on the implications of neuroscience for our criminal justice system. His views are exactly in line with the CFN's recommendations for criminal justice reform. See "For the law, neuroscience changes nothing and everything." He spoke at Harvard at the invitation of the CFN in November, 2006.

Sam Harris, 2005 PEN award winner for his book The End of Faith, debunks contra-causal free will, and shows it unnecessary for our responsibility practices (pp. 262-264). "We can find secure foundations for ethics and the rule of law without succumbing to any obvious cognitive illusions."

Joseph Hilbe*, Fellow of the American Statistical Association and of the International Statistical Institute, emeritus professor of philosophy and statistics, author of Negative Binomial Regression (Cambridge University Press) and other books, is planning a book bridging naturalism and statistics.

Ted Honderich maintains an excellent web page, the Determinism and Freedom Philosophy Website. His own position is decidedly naturalistic and in favor of rethinking common assumptions and policies founded on free will.

Joachim Krueger is a professor of psychology at Brown University who is interested in questions of rationality, social perception, and strategic behavior. In his blog, he discusses psychological issues from a naturalist perspective.

Rolf Kuehni, professor of color science at NC State University, co-author of Color Ordered, Oxford University Press, 2008 and three other books on color.

Robert D. Lane, retired philosophy professor and the founding director of the Institute of Practical Philosophy at Vancouver Island University.

Brian Leiter*, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin (The Leiter Report) is a progressive free will skeptic and takes strong exception to what Nietzsche called the "metaphysics of the hangman".

Michael  Martin, described at Wikipedia as a pluralist naturalist, is Professor Emeritus at Boston University, author of Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, Atheism, Morality and Meaning, the entry on naturalism in The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Atheism and co-editor of The Impossibility of God.

Michael McKenna, philosopher specializing free will and moral responsibility with an interest in how a scientifically-informed understanding of human freedom might bear on interpersonal attitudes and social policy.

Thomas Metzinger*, neurophilosopher and author of Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, takes an exceptionally far-sighted view of how naturalizing consciousness might influence our self-concept and the ethics of creating artificial intelligence.

James Murray is a professor of biology at the University of Central Arkansas who has drawn attention to the impact of neuroscience on our conceptions of self and soul.  He's also a member of the Alliance for Science, doing good work to promote the integrity and acceptance of science in the US.

John Allen Paulos – professor of mathematics at Temple University, author of many books including Irreligion: a mathematician explains why arguments for god just don’t add up.

Derk Pereboom, a philosopher at Cornell, is author of Living Without Free Will and "Meaning in Life Without Free Will," in which he makes a strong case against retribution, and for the claim that we don't need contra-causal free will to sustain meaning and moral worth.

Ron Pies, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, takes an enlightened, humanistic view of addiction and mental illness as brain disorders, not moral failings.  He also writes on a wide range of topics,  including the intersection of neuroscience and spirituality.

Will Provine, professor of biology at Cornell, has long seen the difficulties with our traditional dualistic and supernatural conceptions of human agency. At conferences and lectures, he memes the positive message of naturalism. His former graduate student Greg Graffin is working along similar lines.

Matthew Putman, co-founder of the World Science Festival in New York and professor of physics at Columbia University.

Edward Rubin, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has written an important critique of the imminent re-write of the Model Criminal Code which would make retribution the primary rationale for criminal sanctions. See "Just Say No To Retribution."

Heidi Ravven, professor of religious studies at Hamilton College, is a founding member of the Society for Empirical Ethics and is currently working on Searching for Ethics in a New America. In her project on naturalizing ethics, which explores the commonalities between neuroscience and Spinoza's ethical and political theories, she questions the doctrine of contra-causal freedom and alerts us to its negative personal and social consequences.

Ellery Schempp is active in the freethought community, especially on issues of church-state separation. As a high school student, he instigated the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Abington School District v. Schempp which found that bible readings were unconstitutional in public schools.

Lee Silver, molecular biologist and author of Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life, is a forceful advocate of coming to terms with our fully physical, natural nature. He forsees great humanitarian benefits once we overcome the conventional dualism of soul vs. body.

David Livingstone Smith is co-founder and director of the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology, established in 2001 to explore the interface between evolutionary biology and human nature.  He’s also associate professor of philosophy at University of New England. His homepage is http://realhumannature.com/.

Tamler Sommers*, Ph.D. recently graduated from Duke University and now teaching at the University of Minnesota, is writing a book on free will and moral responsibility. See his essay for Naturalism.Org, "Darrow and determinism: giving up ultimate responsibility", written on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of trial lawyer Clarence Darrow's defense of Leopold and Loeb.

Julia Sweeney, actress, atheist and playwright, formerly of Saturday Night Live, describes her journey from faith to philosophical naturalism in a play, "Letting Go of God," and in forthcoming CDs, film and book.

John Symons*, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso, has expressed support for the CFN mission to promote a positive naturalism.

Matt Taylor, lawyer and author of Tent Revival For Agnostics.

Bruce Waller has written excellent books on free will and moral responsibility from a naturalistic perspective, two of which, The Natural Selection of Autonomy and Freedom Without Responsibility, are reviewed at this site.

Daniel Wegner is author of The Illusion of Conscious Will. Wegner gives us important notice of times to come by describing an empirically validated self, whose powers can be understood without invoking contra-causal free will.

Contributors to the CFN qualifying as Allies of Naturalism

Rev. Don Fielding - former geologist and a retired Unitarian Universalist minister; also a Religious Naturalist, and active in the Texas Master Naturalist program.

Herb Korpell - psychiatrist since the sixties, thinks about applying naturalism to psychotherapy if he ever figures it out for himself.

Jody Keeler - CPA and commercial real estate broker in Concord, NH – dedicated student of a discipline in naturalistic personal autonomy and spiritual maturity since the late 80’s.

Ken Batts - naturalistic psychotherapist working in the Boston area.

Will Davidson - existential philosopher / psychologist, working on  the full understanding and integration of "spirtuality" within a  strictly naturalistic framework.

John Sommerstein - deterministic psychotherapist and attorney in Cambridge and Boston, respectively.  

Eugenio Righi - flutemaker working in Boston, free spirit and independent thinker.

Jim Hurley - biomedical scientist, new father of twins, working and living in the Boston area.

Saúl Sibirsky - born in Uruguay and Ph.D. in Latin American Literature and Culture, writing a book on applying the naturalistic worldview.

Ted Cloak - a cultural anthropologist (Ph.D. Wisconsin 1966), Ted has been arguing for naturalistic explanations of cultural features for at least 50 years.

Al Tino - physics Ph.D., engineer, martial artist, part-time educator, longtime scientific naturalist, atheist, and secular humanist, lives and works in New Jersey.

Brian Ozinga - an entrepreneur and self-employed businessman who is inspired by and fills his free time with the writings and creations of the prodigious talents found amongst these allies.

Craig D. Barlow - trained in Agriculture and Law, working in the area of food safety. Attending university to obtain a Certificate of Ethics in order to teach ethics to students and prisoners.

Clarence "Sonny" Williams - Sonny is a retired management consultant, who specialized in organizational behavior and continues to learn and write about "the human condition."  His writings on naturalism and human behavior can be found at www.clarencewilliams.net.

Graham Robinson - a life-long naturalist, is a photographer based in the South East of England. He created the 100% Natural slogan used on Brights merchandise.

Don Leka is a lawyer and musician living in Brookline, Massachusetts.  He is currently exploring the overlap between Naturalism and Buddhism.

Okko Hartikainen - unpaid philosopher and computer hobbyist residing in Hämeenlinna, Finland.

James Farmelant (B.S., Physics, UMass Lowell) is a software engineer by profession. His main interests are natural and social sciences and political thought.

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