Paul Guillibert, The problem of naturalism. Philosophy facing political ecology


The problem of naturalism could be summarized as follows: is there a sufficiently homogeneous category to group together phenomena as different as biological processes, physical forces and waves, climate systems, chemical molecules, highly differentiated organisms, human bodies, living and non-living entities, etc. under the same term? Or, is the habit of classifying all these phenomena under an allegedly universal category a culturally and historically situated “scheme of practice” (Descola, 2005)? As we can see, the problem is immediately political and epistemological. From a political point of view, it reflects on the forms of naturalization of the social world, i.e. the derivation of practical norms from natural facts (“naturalistic fallacy”, Larrère 2015), a problem that sexual and gender policies therefore face (family law, recognition of the rights of transgender persons, surrogacy / assisted medical reproduction, abortion laws, etc.). From an epistemological point of view, it invites us to question the ontological sharing from which knowledge is constructed and which is put to work in the different fields of research (Latour, Stengers and Prygogyne, Charbonnier). This article will present how much the philosophical problem of naturalism inherits from the recomposition of environmental humanities stemming from pragmatism (Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Émilie Hache), post-structuralist anthropology (Philippe Descola) or environmental history (Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, Christophe Bonneuil, Thomas Le Roux).


Keywords: Naturalism;  Nature; Pragmatism; Post-structuralism, Environmental ethics; Environmental humanities.

Published on: N. 31 New Series – Year XVI 2020 – Methods and practices, histories and perspectives