Naturalism conference

Friday, May 28, 2010
Centre for the Philosophy of Religion, Heythrop College, University of London

Religion and Naturalism

Saturday 12 June 2010

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines ontological naturalism as the assertion that reality has no place for supernatural or other ‘spooky’ kinds of entity.

Much of current philosophy operates within a naturalist paradigm, and therefore starts from a position that seems inherently hostile to traditional religion. How should defenders of religion respond to the naturalist challenge? Is naturalism a coherent outlook, or is it an illegitimate attempt to extend the scope of science to the whole of reality? Is a theistic worldview – in its implications for ethics,for psychology, for cosmology – on a collision course with naturalism? The distinguished speakers at this one-day conference, organized by the Centre for the Philosophy of Religion at Heythrop College, University of London, will be debating an issue that has become central to contemporary philosophy of religion.


To encourage a lively and productive debate, each session has one speaker who is broadly sympathetic to the naturalist outlook and one who favours a theistic position. In each ninety minute session each speaker will talk for thirty minutes and the discussion will then be opened to the floor for thirty minutes. To conclude the
conference, there will be a round table discussion involving all six speakers, with the opportunity for further comments and questions from the floor.

10.00 am SESSION 1: Naturalism and Metaphysics
Paul Snowdon and Keith Ward
11.30 am COFFEE
12:00 noon SESSION 2: Naturalism and Mind
David Papineau and John Haldane
1.30 pm LUNCH
2:30 pm SESSION 3: Naturalism and Ethics
Simon Blackburn and Fiona Ellis
4:00 pm SESSION 4: Reflections and Conclusions
Round table discussion, introduced by John Cottingham


To register please send your full name in an email to with 12 June as header,indicating your fees category (see below).
U of L faculty/students – no charge
Students - £5
Concession - £10
Standard - £20
HEYTHROP COLLEGE University of London
Kensington Square, London W8 5HN
Tel. 020 7795 6600