Critiques of the Design Argumen2

Critiques of the Design Argumen2 - Critiques of the Design...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Critiques of the Design Argument: Hume Why Hume casts the Argument in terms of Similarity Hume puts the design argument into the mouth of one of his characters, Cleanthes. Cleanthes casts the argument as one based on similarity: the world is similar to a machine; similar effects have similar causes, so the cause of the world is similar to a human designer or creator. Hume's way of setting up the argument immediately poses a dilemma for the traditional or classical theist: she must either side with Cleanthes, embracing an anthropomorphic conception of God, or she must instead embrace the agnosticism of Philo and or the purely negative theology of Demea. Classical theism, which involves a Creator who is "wholly other" than us and yet who can be known on through His effects, is excluded from the start. As I have argued in the preceding lecture, the design argument need not depend on making any claim about the similarity of the world to human artefacts. Instead, the explanation of certain features of the world, including the anthropic coincidences and the elegance of fundamental physical laws, leads us to the positing of a teleological form of causation, causation making reference to the powers of a thing to produce certain kinds of effects. Once we have identified these features of the world as purposive, the existence of an intelligent, purposeful agent is an immediate consequence. None of this depends on the effects of this agent being at all similar to those of human agent, except in the bare fact of being purposive. Why, then, does Hume cast the argument exclusively in terms of similarity? An uncharitable interpretation would be that he choose to do this because he knew that this sort of design argument is vulnerable to crushing objections. This would be to accuse Hume of a Straw Man strategy, deliberately setting up a weak form of the argument for easy refutation. However, this cannot be the whole story, since if Hume were merely indulging in Straw-Man fencing, the contemporary defenders of theism would have pointed this out, and Hume's book would not have had the kind of influence it has. No, Hume's decision to cast the design argument in this form must appeal to something deep-seated in the modern frame of mind. This fact becomes still clearer when we realize that Cleanthes' version of the design argument is constrained by Hume's own epistemology, his theory of knowledge. According to Hume, all empirical knowledge is of two kinds: immediate perceptual knowledge, and inferential knowledge. All inferential knowledge proceeds by projecting patterns that have been observed onto cases that have not been observed. I have observed the sun repeatedly rise and set, so I infer that the sun always has and always will rise and set in the same way. I have observed only white swans, so I infer that all swans are white. This form of inference is known as straight or
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course PHI PHI2010 taught by Professor Jorgerigol during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

Page1 / 3

Critiques of the Design Argumen2 - Critiques of the Design...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online