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38
THE TELEOLOGICAL

ARGUMENT
Robin Collins

Introduction

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 (100–1000
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: 153–4).
In the West, the design argument goes back to at least Heraclitus (500 bce). It
reached its highpoint with the publication of Paley’s Natural Theology (1802), which
primarily appealed to the intricate structure of plants and animals as evidence for
design. With the advent of Darwin’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 Newton’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.

Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, edited by Chad Meister, and Paul Copan, Taylor & Francis Group, 2012. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/tccd-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1114699.
Created from tccd-ebooks on 2020-07-09 09:57:51.

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ROBIN COLLINS

412

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: 292–5), gravity is the least strong of

7

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 aspect—indeed, I have argued, the central one—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 you’re receiving from

reading this, I doubt if you’ll really think you’d be better off if you didn’t exist.
Of course, we can all imagine a situation where someone’s life was so bad that it
would be better for them if they ceased to exist—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 it’s obviously going to be better for him (and
indeed us) if he exists. The claim that it’s better to exist than not to exist seems
then—minor and irrelevant quibbling aside—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 God’s by definition
perfect, then of course—given that it’s better to exist than not to exist—he’ll have
to exist. It’s impossible for the premises to both be true and yet the conclusion false
and it’s obvious that both the premises are true. So it seems as if we’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?

♦ ♦ ♦

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EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/17/2017 4:18 PM via TARRANT COUNTY
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It’s easier to spot that something has gone w

425

50

Pragmatic Arguments

JEFFREY JORDAN

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 ’ s character:

Meno : Somehow or other I believe you are right.

Socrates : I think I am. I shouldn ’ 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 – that is, that we shall
be better, braver, and more active men if we believe it right to look for what we don ’ t
know than if we believe there is no point in looking because what we don ’ t know
we can never discover.

Meno : There too I am sure you are. (Plato 1961 )

Socrates ’ 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 ’
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 α helps to bring about β , and
a2. it is in your interest that β obtain. So,
a3. you have reason to do α .

There are two kinds of pragmatic arguments having to do with the action of belief
formation (see Jordan 2006 , pp. 39 – 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 “ truth – dependent ” pragmatic argument, or more conveniently
a “ dependent – argument, ” 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:

A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, edited by Charles Taliaferro, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/tccd-ebooks/detail.action?docID=480428.
Created from tccd-ebooks on 2020-07-09 10:26:10.

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Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

David Hume

Copyright ©2010–2015 All rights reserved. Jonathan Bennett

[Brackets] enclose editorial explanations. Small ·dots· enclose material that has been added, but can be read as
though it were part of the original text. Occasional •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

Contents

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 hasn’t
been much used in recent times, and has seldom succeeded
when people have tried it. ·There is a good reason for this·.
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 ·there is also another disadvantage
of the dialogue form·. 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. ·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
includes both·.

Any point of doctrine that is •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. 

YouTube Videos

This folder contains the YouTube videos which explain the different arguments for the existence of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBmAKCvWl74&ab_channel=drcraigvideos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdAeNQmftzg&ab_channel=CenterforPhilosophyofReligion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zS1HiuWPMA&ab_channel=WirelessPhilosophy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBMAMIFw9n4&ab_channel=WirelessPhilosophy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPCzEP0oD7I&ab_channel=drcraigvideos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e9v_fsZB6A&ab_channel=CrashCourse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F_LUFIeUk0&ab_channel=WirelessPhilosophy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S93jMOqF-oE&ab_channel=CrashCourse

God’s Existence

This folder contains readings concerning arguments for the existence and non-existence of God.

David Hume’s Design Argument

• Cleanthes is the advocate for the design
argument: “The 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
animal… all these announce in the clearest
language an intelligent cause or author” (part
4).

• Like effects prove like causes – the basis for
empirical arguments.

– (Similar effects have similar causes.)

– If there are two different effects that are similar
then we can infer that the causes are also similar.

– 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.

– Cleanthes claims that the universe and a house
have similar effects, therefore they have similar
causes.

Objections to Design Argument

• 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
universe.

• It is possible that there could be more than
one designer; that is, the existence of a well-
designed universe is consistent with multiple
designers.

• Let us concede that the universe is designed,
the following three scenarios are all just as
plausible:

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
ridicule.

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

• This argument presents us with a divine being
of classical theism.

• God’s attributes include:

– All-powerful

– All-knowing

– All-loving

– Eternal

– Infinite

– Necessarily exists (which implies that it is
impossible for God to not exist) – if God
necessarily exists, then this is the explanation for
God’s existence.

• 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

• Agent-based: a right-action is defined in
terms of a virtuous agent. This is a fully agent-
centered ethical theory.

• Agent-prior: agent-evaluations are not the
most fundamental concept, but derive
evaluations by evaluating agents.

• Agent-focused: emphasizes character traits
over rules and principles

Aristotle’s Influence

• Aristotle’s virtue ethics are perhaps agent-
prior.

• For Aristotle virtue requires particular actions
and particular emotional responses.

– Emotions should allows the virtuous person to
correctly view the world and understand it.

• The doctrine of the mean: a virtuous action is
the mean between excess and deficienty.

• Practical wisdom is necessary to acquire the
virtues and the virtues are necessary to
acquire practical wisdom.

• In order to live well humans must fulfill their
natural purpose.

– Fulfilling one’s purpose means that one is acting in
accordance with one’s design.

Virtue & Flourishing

• The question is whether one who acts
virtuously will flourish? Or can one flourish
despite not acting virtuously?

– According to Aristotle the virtuous individual will
live well and flourish.

• Some theories of virtue identify virtue with
empathy towards other persons.

– There is not a connection between virtue and
living well.

Some General Issues

• Virtue ethics do not supply rules or
procedures for ethical deliberation.

• Virtue ethics suggests that some moral
dilemmas might be irresolvable.

– Moral luck might be a fundamental feature of
morality.

Three Contemporary Trends

1. Separating virtuous individuals from living
well; that is, someone can be virtuous and
not flourish.

2. The prevalence of virtue ethics in medical
ethics, environmental ethics, and business
ethics.

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 good action?’  Do we look at the results of an action to determine rightness or does motivation matter?  Perhaps we should look at the character of the agent who is performing the action. In this lesson we explore the ideas of virtue, character, happiness and the good society.

Virtue Ethics

This folder contains introductory material on Virtue Ethics.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrvtOWEXDIQ&ab_channel=CrashCourse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQk6t-9mQjE&ab_channel=WirelessPhilosophy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFPBf1AZOQg&ab_channel=WirelessPhilosophy

Podcasts on Virtue Ethics

This folder contains three podcasts relating to the history of virtue ethics.  The three podcasts cover Aristotle’s ethics, Thomas Aquinas’s ethics, and Albert the Great.

https://historyofphilosophy.net/aristotle-ethics

https://historyofphilosophy.net/aristotle-friendship

https://historyofphilosophy.net/albert-aquinas-ethics

Unit 3 Discussion Board

In your posts to the discussion board for Unit 1, be sure to answer the following EACH of the following questions 
in separate threads: 

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, your posts must 

1) include 6-8 sentences answering this question;

2) provide specific and substantive arguments or examples from the lesson, with pages numbers from readings and/or time stamps from videos if applicable;

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