Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 August 2009
Although I haven't emphasised this point in my previous discussion, it is plausible to suppose that a full discussion of teleological arguments would also need to be very extensive indeed. As in the earlier discussion of cosmological arguments, I shall need to give a fairly summary treatment of many of the key issues.
The plan of this chapter is as follows. I begin with a discussion of Paley's famous presentation of ‘the eighteenth century argument for design’ that is set out in his Natural Theology, and then move on to a discussion of the updated version of Paley's argument that is defended by Michael Behe. Next, I examine the recent discussion of fine-tuning design arguments, before turning to a discussion of some of the important features of Hume's critique of arguments for design. The last comments in this chapter take up the question of the general bearing of considerations about infinity on arguments for design.
BIOLOGICAL DESIGN: PALEY
Discussions of Paley's argument typically begin by insisting either that Paley's argument is an argument by analogy or that Paley's argument is best understood as an argument by inference to the best explanation, or perhaps both of these things at once. However, it seems to me that, if we look carefully at the considerations that Paley actually presents, then we shall see that his argument is not best characterised in either of these ways.