Design arguments have a long history, probably being the most commonly cited
argument for believing in a deity. In ancient India, for instance, the argument from
design was advanced by the so-called Nyaya (or logical-atomist) school (100â€“1000
ce), which argued for the existence of a deity based on the order of the world, which
they compared both to human artifacts and to the human body (Smart 1964: 153â€“4).
In the West, the design argument goes back to at least Heraclitus (500 bce). It
reached its highpoint with the publication of Paleyâ€™s Natural Theology (1802), which
primarily appealed to the intricate structure of plants and animals as evidence for
design. With the advent of Darwinâ€™s theory of evolution, this version of the argument
underwent an almost fatal blow, although it has gained a small following since the
1990s among advocates of the so-called intelligent design movement. By far the
most widely cited evidence for design, however, is that from findings in physics and
cosmology during the twentieth century. In this chapter we will mainly focus on the
evidence from the so-called fine-tuning of the cosmos for conscious, embodied life
(CEL), although we will briefly look at other evidence from the beauty and elegance
of the laws of nature.
the evidence of fine-tuning
Many examples of this fine-tuning can be given, a few of which we will briefly recount
here. One particularly important category of fine-tuning is that of the constants of
physics. The constants of physics are a set of fundamental numbers that, when plugged
into the laws of physics, determine the basic structure of the universe. An example of
such a constant is the gravitational constant G that is part of Newtonâ€™s law of gravity,
F 5 GM1M2/r
2. G essentially determines the strength of gravity between two masses.
If one were to double the value of G, for instance, then the force of gravity between
any two masses would double.
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So far, physicists have discovered four forces in nature: gravity, the weak nuclear
force, electromagnetism, and the strong nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons
together in an atom. As measured in a certain set of standard dimensionless units
(Barrow and Tipler 1986: 292â€“5), gravity is the least strong of
The Ontological Argument
The Ontological Argument was first thought of by St Anselm almost a thousand
years ago.1 The essence of the argument can be stated very briskly.
1. God, by definition, is a perfect being.
2. It is better to exist than not to exist.
Therefore, God exists.
In an argument, one may define terms however one wishes, and premise 1 just
reports one aspectâ€”indeed, I have argued, the central oneâ€”of the theistic
definition of God. So if anything goes wrong with the argument, then it must be
in premise 2. But premise 2 looks pretty obviously right as well. Consider the
question: which of these would be better for you: that you be vaporized now with
a ray gun and thus that you cease to exist or that you continue to exist?
However small an amount of benefit or enjoyment youâ€™re receiving from
reading this, I doubt if youâ€™ll really think youâ€™d be better off if you didnâ€™t exist.
Of course, we can all imagine a situation where someoneâ€™s life was so bad that it
would be better for them if they ceased to existâ€”maybe the Spartan boy I told
you about in an earlier chapter was in such a situation. However, if the person in
question was in all other ways well off, it would certainly be better for him or her
if he or she existed rather than not; and God is obviously going to be maximally
well off in all other respects, so itâ€™s obviously going to be better for him (and
indeed us) if he exists. The claim that itâ€™s better to exist than not to exist seems
thenâ€”minor and irrelevant quibbling asideâ€”right.
Both the premises of the Ontological Argument seem to be obviously true; taken
together they seem to lead in an obviously deductively valid way to the conclusion
that God exists, which was something not so obviously true. If Godâ€™s by definition
perfect, then of courseâ€”given that itâ€™s better to exist than not to existâ€”heâ€™ll have
to exist. Itâ€™s impossible for the premises to both be true and yet the conclusion false
and itâ€™s obvious that both the premises are true. So it seems as if weâ€™ve got a
deductively sound argument for the existence of God the soundness of which is
more obvious than is the existence of God. The Ontological Argument then seems
to satisfy our criteria for being a good argument. It seems to, but does it?
â™¦ â™¦ â™¦
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Itâ€™s easier to spot that something has gone w
As with so much in philosophy, the fi rst recorded employment of a pragmatic argument
is found in Plato. At Meno 86b – c, in response to the paradox of the knower, Socrates
tells Meno that believing in the value of inquiry is justifi ed because of the positive impact
upon one â€™ s character:
Meno : Somehow or other I believe you are right.
Socrates : I think I am. I shouldn â€™ t like to take my oath on the whole story, but one
thing I am ready to fi ght for as long as I can, in word and act â€“ that is, that we shall
be better, braver, and more active men if we believe it right to look for what we don â€™ t
know than if we believe there is no point in looking because what we don â€™ t know
we can never discover.
Meno : There too I am sure you are. (Plato 1961 )
Socrates â€™ point is if being better, braver, and more active are among our desires, and if
believing that inquiry is permissible facilitates our becoming better, braver, and more
active, then we have pragmatic reason to believe that inquiry is permissible. Socrates â€™
argument is an argument in support of cultivating a certain belief. Pragmatic argu-
ments are practical in orientation, justifying actions that are thought to facilitate the
achievement of our goals. If among your goals is A, and if doing such and such results
in your achieving A, then, all else equal, you have reason to do such and such:
a1. doing Î± helps to bring about Î² , and
a2. it is in your interest that Î² obtain. So,
a3. you have reason to do Î± .
There are two kinds of pragmatic arguments having to do with the action of belief
formation (see Jordan 2006 , pp. 39 â€“ 42). The fi rst is an argument that recommends
taking steps to believe a proposition because, if it should turn out to be true, the benefi ts
gained from believing that proposition will be impressive. This fi rst kind of pragmatic
argument we can call a â€œ truth – dependent â€ pragmatic argument, or more conveniently
a â€œ dependent – argument, â€ since the benefi ts are obtained only if the relevant belief is
true. The prime example of a dependent argument is an argument that uses a calcula-
tion of expected utility and employs the expectation rule to recommend belief:
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Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Copyright Â©2010â€“2015 All rights reserved. Jonathan Bennett
[Brackets] enclose editorial explanations. Small Â·dotsÂ· enclose material that has been added, but can be read as
though it were part of the original text. Occasional â€¢bullets, and also indenting of passages that are not quotations,
are meant as aids to grasping the structure of a sentence or a thought. Every four-point ellipsis . . . . indicates the
omission of a brief passage that seems to present more difficulty than it is worth. Longer omissions are reported
with square brackets in normal-sized type.
First launched: July 2004 Last amended: November 2007
Letter from Pamphilus to Hermippus 1
Part 1 2
Part 2 9
Part 3 16
Part 4 20
Part 5 24
Part 6 27
Part 7 30
Dialogues concerning Natural Religion David Hume
Part 8 34
Part 9 38
Part 10 40
Part 11 47
Part 12 54
Dialogues concerning Natural Religion David Hume Pamphilus to Hermippus
Letter from Pamphilus to Hermippus
It has been remarked that though the ancient philosophers
mostly taught through dialogues, the dialogue form hasnâ€™t
been much used in recent times, and has seldom succeeded
when people have tried it. Â·There is a good reason for thisÂ·.
Philosophical enquirers these days are expected to produce
precise and orderly arguments; and someone aiming at those
will naturally proceed with a methodical exposition in which
he can, right at the outset, explain the point he wants to
establish, and then proceed without interruption to present
his proofs of it. It hardly seems natural to present a system
in conversation. And Â·there is also another disadvantage
of the dialogue formÂ·. By departing from the direct style
of composition the dialogue-writer hopes to give a freer air
to his performance, and to avoid the appearance of Author
and Reader; but he risks running into something worse,
conveying the image of Teacher and Pupil. And if he avoids
that by conducting the dispute in the natural spirit of good
company, throwing in a variety of arguments, and preserving
a proper balance among the speakers, he often spends so
much time setting things up, and moving from one line of
thought to another, that the reader will hardly think that the
order, brevity, and precision which have been lost are made
up for by all the graces of dialogue.
There are some subjects, however, for which dialogue-
writing is especially suitable, and preferable to the direct
and simple method of composition. Â·I shall describe two of
them; apart from their suitability for the dialogue form they
are utterly unalike, though it will turn out that one big topic
Any point of doctrine that is â€¢so obvious that it can hardly
Lesson 5: Philosophy of Religion–Arguments for the Existence of God
Philosophy of religion is typically concerned with the nature and existence of God.Â
This folder contains the YouTubeÂ videos which explain the different arguments for the existence of God.
This folder contains readings concerning arguments for the existence and non-existence of God.
David Hume’s Design Argument
â€¢ Cleanthes is the advocate for the design
argument: â€œThe order and arrangement of
nature, the intricate adjustment of things to
their purposes, the plain use and intended
purpose of every part and organ of a plant or
animalâ€¦ all these announce in the clearest
language an intelligent cause or authorâ€ (part
â€¢ Like effects prove like causes â€“ the basis for
â€“ (Similar effects have similar causes.)
â€“ If there are two different effects that are similar
then we can infer that the causes are also similar.
â€“ Water quenches my thirst and gatorade quenches
my thirst; therefore drinking gatorade seems to be
a similar cause as drinking water.
1. A house has an architect.
1. The universe has a designer.
â€“ Cleanthes claims that the universe and a house
have similar effects, therefore they have similar
Objections to Design Argument
â€¢ Philo claims that Cleanthes argument has the
following negative consequences:
1. In our experiences with the universe we have
not experienced infinity; hence the cause of
the universe cannot be infinite.
2. Nature contains many imperfections such as
illnesses, natural disasters, etc. So we cannot
attribute perfection to the cause of the
â€¢ It is possible that there could be more than
one designer; that is, the existence of a well-
designed universe is consistent with multiple
â€¢ Let us concede that the universe is designed,
the following three scenarios are all just as
1. This world was only the first rough attempt of
some infant god, who afterwards abandoned it,
ashamed of his poor performance.
2. This universe is the work of some dependent,
inferior god, whose superiors hold it up for
3. This universe was produced by some god in his
old age and near-senility, and ever since his
death the world has continued without further
guidance, activated by the first shove he gave to
it and the active force that he built into it.
The Argument from a First Cause
â€¢ This argument presents us with a divine being
of classical theism.
â€¢ Godâ€™s attributes include:
â€“ Necessarily exists (which implies that it is
impossible for God to not exist) â€“ if God
necessarily exists, then this is the explanation for
â€¢ The argument stated:
1. Either the universe has always existed for an
infinite amount of time without cause or
there is an ultimate cause for the universe.
Contemporary Virtue Ethics
By Karen Stohr
Types of Virtue Ethics
â€¢ Agent-based: a right-action is defined in
terms of a virtuous agent. This is a fully agent-
centered ethical theory.
â€¢ Agent-prior: agent-evaluations are not the
most fundamental concept, but derive
evaluations by evaluating agents.
â€¢ Agent-focused: emphasizes character traits
over rules and principles
â€¢ Aristotleâ€™s virtue ethics are perhaps agent-
â€¢ For Aristotle virtue requires particular actions
and particular emotional responses.
â€“ Emotions should allows the virtuous person to
correctly view the world and understand it.
â€¢ The doctrine of the mean: a virtuous action is
the mean between excess and deficienty.
â€¢ Practical wisdom is necessary to acquire the
virtues and the virtues are necessary to
acquire practical wisdom.
â€¢ In order to live well humans must fulfill their
â€“ Fulfilling oneâ€™s purpose means that one is acting in
accordance with oneâ€™s design.
Virtue & Flourishing
â€¢ The question is whether one who acts
virtuously will flourish? Or can one flourish
despite not acting virtuously?
â€“ According to Aristotle the virtuous individual will
live well and flourish.
â€¢ Some theories of virtue identify virtue with
empathy towards other persons.
â€“ There is not a connection between virtue and
Some General Issues
â€¢ Virtue ethics do not supply rules or
procedures for ethical deliberation.
â€¢ Virtue ethics suggests that some moral
dilemmas might be irresolvable.
â€“ Moral luck might be a fundamental feature of
Three Contemporary Trends
1. Separating virtuous individuals from living
well; that is, someone can be virtuous and
2. The prevalence of virtue ethics in medical
ethics, environmental ethics, and business
3. The development of a conception of
character and how that relates to virtue.
Lesson 6: Ethical Theories, Virtue Ethics
Ethical theories attempt to answer the question ‘what is a right or goodÂ action?’ Â Do we look at the results of an action to determine rightness or does motivation matter? Â Perhaps we should look at the character of the agent who is performing the action.Â In this lesson we explore the ideas of virtue,Â character,Â happiness and the good society.
This folder contains introductory material on Virtue Ethics.
Podcasts on Virtue Ethics
This folder contains three podcastsÂ relating to the history of virtue ethics. Â The three podcastsÂ cover Aristotle’s ethics, Thomas Aquinas’s ethics, and Albert the Great.
Unit 3 Discussion Board
In your posts to the discussion board for UnitÂ 1, be sure to answer the following EACH of the followingÂ questionsÂ
in separate threads:Â
1. What is the most persuasive argument for the existence of God?
2. Describe the strongest objection to the argument for gods existence that you found to be the most persuasive. Explain whether you think the argument for the existence of God that you picked for question one ultimately succeeds or fails.
3. What exactly is a virtue, according to Aristotle? Give an example of a virtue, and explain why it is a virtue, and Aristotle’s view. Is his account plausible? Why or why not?
To receive full credit for this assignment,Â your posts mustÂ
1)Â includeÂ 6-8Â sentences answering this question;
2)Â provide specific and substantive arguments or examples from the lesson,Â with pages numbers from readings and/or time stamps from videos if applicable;