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Philosophy 1010
Class #9
Introduction to Philosophy
Paul Dickey
E-mail Address: [email protected]
- Discussion of Class Essay & Expectations.
- Discussion of Chapter 4, Sections 4.1 thru 4.5.
- Begin Discussion of Chapter 6.
Write 1-2 paragraph statement of your essay topic
with brief summary of the argument you will give
in your essay.
Discuss Velasquez, Philosophy: A Text With
Readings, Chapter 7, Sections 7.1-7.3, pp. 456-490
(but you may skip pp. 472-474 & 480-482.
Online Course & Instructor Feedback
Please Don’t Forget!!!
Class Essay
Requirements for Class Essay
You are writing a short 3-5-page essay (computer-printed or typed,
double-spaced, 1” margins, Times Romans 12-point font).
The paper must demonstrate your understanding of a topic
we discussed -- for example, the mind/body problem.
You will need to identify two philosophers to discuss in your
essay in regard to your topic.
Your paper will show specific and detailed understanding of
the two points of view on the issue by the two philosophers
which raises an apparent conflict.
The student will discuss this conflict and propose in his or
her paper an argument to resolve the conflict. In doing
this, you will rely on your own independent thinking.
You will need to explicitly identify a narrow sub-topic on the
issue that you choose that appropriately allows you to make
an interesting claim of your own where the philosophers
disagree on the issue.
Requirements for Class Essay
You are free to select from a broad availability of sources
(but not Wikipedia). If you have a question about the
appropriateness of a source you wish to use, please
discuss this with instructor before you turn in your essay.
You must use at least three sources, but not more than
five (otherwise your research could get unwieldy).
Topic to be selected with instructor approval by next
week. By then, you should have a good idea what your
general argument will be.
Essay are due when you come to final exam on the last
day of class. No essays will be accepted after that
The essay will be 15% of your course grade.
Any questions?
Requirements for Class Essay
Choosing a Topic:
1. Hopefully, something we have talked about in class has
interested you. For example, when you read Chapter four,
perhaps you will be intrigued, by the third “proof” for the
existence of God: the Argument from Design.
2. Pick two philosophers who addressed the question, say
William Paley and David Hume.
3. Focus your attention on one point where they disagreed.
For example, Paley and Hume disagreed about the strength
of the watchmaker analogy.
4. Decide what you think about this particular disagreement
and make a statement (a claim!) that summarizes your own
view on it. For example, a claim might be: Paley based the
watchmaker analogy on strong scientific evidence that
David Hume did not recognize. Notice that simply saying
“Paley was right and Hume was wrong” is not a good claim
because it is excessively vague. Now, have fun and let’s
hear your argument for that conclusion !!!
Requirements for Class Essay
Your essay will be graded as an sum of five scores:
How correctly do you represent the view of the
1st philosopher? NO STRAW MEN ALLOWED!
How correctly do you represent the view of the
2st philosopher? NO STRAW MEN ALLOWED!
Is your claim reasonable and clearly stated?
Do you give a good argument for your claim?,
Technical areas such as grammar, spelling.
Did you follow the specified requirements?,
did you provide a bibliography of your sources,
Online Philosophy Sources that you
might wish to use in your term paper:
Chapter 4
Philosophy and God
(a Metaphysical Study)
The Traditional “Proofs”
The Argument From Design
The Argument From Design, also known as the teleological
argument (thus being traced back to Aristotle) states that the
order and purpose manifest in the working of nature, and
particularly, human nature require that there be a logical
designer or God.
This argument is very popular today and is probably the most
prevalent and strongest argument for the existence of God.
The best known early formulation of this argument was given
by the theologian William Paley (1743-1805).
Paley compared natural organisms to the mechanism of a
watch and by analogy argued that as the design of the watch
demonstrates the existence of a watchmaker, natural design
shows the work of a “Divine Agency.”
The Argument From Design
Relying on a multitude of examples including the
migration of birds, the adaptability of species, and the
human eye, Paley seemed to make a pretty convincing
argument given the science of the day,
David Hume did object however on the basis that as an
argument from analogy, the argument was weak.
Arguments from analogy are only as strong as our
knowledge of the relevant similarities. In this one, we do
not know how nature and living things are made and
thus that it is at all “like” a watch being made.
Hume was arguing against Paley’s assumption that
complex order can be produced only by an intelligent
being. That may or may not be the case, Hume would
say. Anticipating Darwin, he suggested that perhaps a
finite amount of particles in random motion might
achieve order.
The Argument from Design & Darwinism
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) filled in the missing
pieces of Hume’s argument by producing scientific
evidence for just what the mechanism could be in
nature to produce the order and appearance of design
that Hume was suggesting.
Darwin suggested that the process was one he called
natural selection. Over millions of years, Darwin
argued, random mechanical processes could produce
organisms that seemed perfectly designed.
Darwin contended that life forms exhibit inherited
“variations” that were gradually selected in a “struggle
for survival” to produce new characteristics of species
and even new species.
The Argument from Design & Darwinism
Others continue to defend the Argument From Design
while granting the possibility of natural selection
processes, rationalizing that it is then just the process by
which God produces living things.
But this later posture gives up a lot of theological
ground. It allows for God to act randomly and that He
allows harmful consequences to exist in his creation.
For many others, the Darwinian theory of evolution was
taken as a “threat” to the Argument From Design which
seemed to be the last bastion of a ultimate support for
the existence of God. Thus many theists to this day
resist the Darwinian view which meanwhile has become
the dominant scientific theory within Biology and has
also developed extended applications in other sciences
and our entire intellectual culture. William Dembski
(1960- ) argues for an empirical theory of intellectual
design and specified complexity.
Atheists such as Richard Dawkins (1941-) state
unequivocally that there is no God.
In taking a metaphysical position on the issue, Atheism
assumes the same burden in regard to all the issues of
meaning and evidence that Theism does.
Atheism must assert reasons that God does not exist
just as we expected the Theist to provide “proofs” for the
existence of God.
Many would argue that Atheism requires just as much
faith as does Theism, but is it really a matter of faith or
the strength of your argument?
The primary argument given by Atheists that God does
not exist is the problem of evil.
The Problem of Evil
The Problem of Evil in its simplest form argues that
since evil exists in the world, then God is either not all
powerful or all good. David Hume subscribed to this
St. Augustine took a position against this view,
arguing that God created the universe and all the
good in the world but the universe he created is not
itself God and is imperfect, finite, and limited. In this
way, it allows the existence of evil as incomplete
Many argue that St. Augustine does not resolve the
issue. Why would not God who is all good ensure
that there was no evil in His universe?
The Problem of Evil
A popular theological argument is that evil is necessary
for the Good to exist. But then is God not omnipotent if
he cannot create Good without Evil?
Another argument the Theist gives is that God allows
Evil in order to give man Free Will. But how does this
account for natural disasters such as hurricanes?
Or maybe, they think, we are confused about what is
Good? What we think is Evil is Good in the mind of
John Hick (1922- ) argues that the presence of evil is
necessary for Man to be made into the likeness of God.
Experiencing evil gives meaning to virtue for Man and
allows him to develop into virtuous beings.
Immanuel Kant
That injustice exists in the world should not lead us to
reject God. Rather it should compel us pursue a
perfectly just world. It is a moral obligation.
To believe that such a world is possible with evil fully
punished and good rewarded would require a belief in
God and an afterlife.
And since all moral obligations must be possible, then
God must exist.
According to Kant’s argument, we must believe in God
although perhaps we cannot know that God exists.
Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) argued that it is
incorrect to say that one is certain of the truth of a
proposition unless he can produce evidence that
logically justifies that certainty.
Sigmund Freud suggested that our belief in God is
an “illusion” and had its origins in infantile needs
for a “father.”
Freud’s view was influential throughout the 20th
century but is considered by most today as an
insufficient explanation. Further, even if it were
true as a psychological explanation, that does not
make the claim that the belief is an “illusion” and
that God does not exist true. Such an argument
commits what is known logically as the Genetic
“The Will to Believe”
William James (1842-1910 ) proposed that in the
absence of irrefutable evidence for the existence of
God, there still is justifiable reason to believe.
James suggests that in this condition, we have the
option to choose what we believe. We do not have an
option not to choose, as perhaps an agnostic might
suggest. To choose not to make a decision is, for
James, to decide.
James discusses three fundamental characteristics of
such options:
1) “living or dead”
2) forced or avoidable
3) momentous or trivial
An Option is a person's decision among a set of hypotheses. A
genuine option is living, forced, and momentous.
1. A living option in one in hypotheses are live, i.e., they
are real possibilities for someone. Since I grew up
attending a Christian church and was raised to believe
that way, it may not be a real option for me to become a
Buddhist, but it is a real option for me to become a
2. A forced option is a dilemma— the hypothesis cannot
be avoided. I.e., for someone enrolled in this class to
come to class or not is forced. Deciding whether or not
God exists and/or we will conduct ourselves according to
that may be forced in this sense.
3. A momentous option is one that is unique and may
well be one's only opportunity. The choice is not trivial,
but significant, because one only has one chance to do it.
“The Will to Believe”
James then argues when an option is genuine
(that is, living, forced and momentous) and cannot
be decided on intellectual grounds, it is justifiable
to choose on the basis of our passional nature. In
fact, James would argue one should so choose.
For James, our “passional nature” consists of all
nonintellectual interests, emotions, desires, hopes,
fears, commitments, our deepest personal needs,
James would hold that when an option is not
genuine, it makes the best sense to decide to
withhold judgment until “the evidence is in.”
In Conclusion
W. K. Clifford, 1845-1879, argued against James (as did
Thomas Huxley), asserting that it is absolutely and always
wrong to make any judgment without sufficient evidence. By
doing so, you make yourself vulnerable to logical and factual
To the contrary, James pointed out that this was one option
that could be chosen and one that would have the advantage
that it might protect us from believing what was false.
On the other hand, another option is to try to protect
ourselves from missing out on the truth and the truth that
would be the one that is ultimately significant to ourselves.
James would choose this option, while recognizing that it
itself must be chosen not on rational grounds, but on
passional grounds.