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When we say "aritificial", we typically mean "created by intelligent being". When we say "natural", we typically mean "created by nature, not by intelligent being".

But then is the human created using in vitro fertilisation natural? Or is that human artificial? What would be the difference between "natural" human and "artificial" one?

Are tools created by less intelligent beings natural? Can tools even be natural?

Now going further, if we assume the universe is created by intelligent being, is the nature itself artificial? What happens with relations of "natural" and "artificial" then? And would something change assuming panpsychism?

What does philosophy say about these questions?

  • Well first you have to decide whether humans are part of nature or not. Second, "natural" is a meaningless term, other than when used to load an argument with positive or negative emotions. The emotional baggage of the term is its only value. I prefer the term "Deliberately created" to denote something that is "artificial". – MichaelK Jul 9 '18 at 16:22
  • @MichaelK, there exists natural selection, will you argue? This question is not about ethics, people use the words "natural" and "artificial" often enough in their speech to make this question meaningful. If we replace "artificial" with "deliberately created" then anything non-artificial is created undeliberately? – rus9384 Jul 9 '18 at 16:26
  • I am going out on a limb here... but I would dare say that anything that was created through the deliberate actions of an agent, is "artificial". So for instance: a beaver dam is an artificial construction. The flood that occurs when the dam bursts however is not artifical... it just happened because the dam collapsed. Unless of course the dam was torn down by humans (example), then it was an artifical flood. – MichaelK Jul 9 '18 at 16:31
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    The sphere of artificiality is a sphere of meaning that has to be carried by objective reality. An artefact is artificial because we formed objective reality in accordance with intention. It is an embodiment of meaning that can only be understood and enacted as a product of reflection (intellect, spirit). Nature is not the embodiment of meaning, although we can impose meaning on it, carried by its objective reality....have to go on writing ;) – Philip Klöcking Jul 9 '18 at 16:42
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    If the question is how "natural" and "artificial" labels are applied it is a question of colloquial use for English SE. If there is a philosophical issue behind it it should be elaborated in the post, "what does philosophy say about" is too vague. Why should philosophy say anything more interesting about it than about the difference between fruits and vegetables? – Conifold Jul 9 '18 at 17:16

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