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Naturalist may refer to:

• A scholar or student of natural history, the science of the natural world; see also natural science. It may also refer to a Wildlife enthusiast or a Conservationist.
• One who agrees with the philosophy of naturalism - that everything obeys natural laws.
• Naturalist book by Edward O. Wilson

Naturalists and naturalism should not be confused with naturism.

Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism. These schools of thought do not distinguish the supernatural (including strange entities like non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived) from nature.

Naturalism does not necessarily claim that phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural do not exist or are wrong, but insists that all phenomena and hypotheses can be studied using the same methods. As such, anything considered supernatural is either nonexistent, unknowable, or not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses.

Any method of inquiry or investigation or any procedure for gaining knowledge that limits itself to natural, physical, and material approaches and explanations can be described as naturalistic.

Many modern philosophers of science use the terms “methodological naturalism” or “scientific naturalism” to refer to the long-standing convention in science of the scientific method, which makes the methodological assumption that observable effects in nature are best explainable only by natural causes, without reference to, or an assumption of, the existence or non-existence of supernatural notions.

They contrast this with the approach known as ontological naturalism or metaphysical naturalism, which refers to the metaphysical belief that the natural world (including the universe) is all that exists, and therefore nothing supernatural exists.

This distinction between approaches to the philosophy of naturalism is made by philosophers supporting science and evolution in the creation – evolution controversy to counter the tendency of some proponents of Creationism or intelligent design to refer to methodological naturalism as scientific materialism or as methodological materialism and conflate it with metaphysical naturalism.

These proponents of creationism use this assertion to support their claim that modern science is atheistic, and contrast it with their preferred approach of a revived natural philosophy which welcomes supernatural explanations for natural phenomena and supports "theistic science" or pseudoscience.




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