Comment on previous post: ‘Picky point I guess, but the argument from design makes no reference to “good intentions” – that would be a moral telological argument (a combination of more than one set of assumptions).’

You are right that my point is not well developed in this area but I omitted a full explanation because it is rather verbose with perhaps little reward. The design argument that most people remember is “the universe looks designed therefore designer exists” but this is really only part of the full argument. The more complete statement of the design argument is the Watchmaker Analogy or similar, which is really in the same “family” of arguments as the teleological argument.

To move beyond a superficial application of the Watchmaker Analogy, we must ask “what attributes of object X that makes us think it is designed?”. Often, it is only an argument from ignorance that makes people conclude something was designed (which is a fallacy). But it is more legitimate to consider an argument by analogy and compare the design process (and to remember that “similar causes prove[/imply] similar effects, and similar effects similar causes”). So, a divine designer is compared to a human designer and both share attributes that make the comparison possible – usually the designer wants the designed object to achieve some teleological goal. A potential difficulty is we must be able to determine the “teleological purpose” in a particular object, as a step in the argument before we conclude there is a designer. (Because we must assume a teleological purpose exists, I now notice that we are in danger of circular argument.) My hand waving reference to “good intentions” was a nod to this ill defined set of designer attributes. By a “good” designer, I am also thinking “competent” and “motivated” designer, with less emphasis on the moral aspects. This would probably be clearer with a concrete example, but I have never heard one I liked.

To relate this back to my post on the problem of evil, we again see the difficult in assessing the teleology of things (which itself is a defense against the problem of evil argument). If we start trying to define criteria that may be used to assess teleological purposes, we are forced to start making assumptions on the designer (e.g. a motive) which may be without basis, particular in context of the design argument. (Random thought: what if the designer wished to create a universe that appeared to have no designer? Can we a priori know a designers attributes?)

Since I am rambling on about the design argument, Hume also raises a further objection in making an analogy between human process and divine process, due to us having no a posteriori knowledge of the latter (at least within this argument).

“That all inferences, CLEANTHES, concerning fact, are founded on experience; and that all experimental reasonings are founded on the supposition that similar causes prove similar effects, and similar effects similar causes; I shall not at present much dispute with you. But observe, I entreat you, with what extreme caution all just reasoners proceed in the transferring of experiments to similar cases. Unless the cases be exactly similar, they repose no perfect confidence in applying their past observation to any particular phenomenon. Every alteration of circumstances occasions a doubt concerning the event; and it requires new experiments to prove certainly, that the new circumstances are of no moment or importance.”

“To ascertain this reasoning, it were requisite that we had experience of the origin of worlds; and it is not sufficient, surely, that we have seen ships and cities arise from human art and contrivance.” Dialogues concerning Natural Religion

The point being that we can only draw analogies between things that we have previously experienced and analogies are merely inductive in nature.

And I will one day have to destroy the concept of “irreducibly complexity”, I have a good rebuttal in my head. Hint: are natural process always additive?

Anti Citizen One

PS The BBC just did a piece on the problem of evil.