- Other Key Terms
- Paley’s Watch vs Stone Comparison
- The Difference Between the Watch and the Stone
- Paley’s Analogy With the Universe
- Premises and Conclusion for Paley’s Design Argument
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- Inductive – conclusion is probabilistic, not certain.
- A Posteriori – the evidence/ justification for the argument comes from experience of the world.
- Argument from Analogy – the argument relies on comparing two objects with similar properties to conclude about an unknown property of one of the objects.
- Teleological – the argument focuses on a purpose or end.
Other Key Terms
Premise – a statement used with the aim to provide support for a conclusion.
Natural Theology – the name of Paley’s book where he presents the Design Argument. Refers to theological study that focuses on answering questions about the divine through reason and observations of the natural world.
Paley’s Watch vs Stone Comparison
Paley asks us to imagine walking along and coming across a stone. Would we need to know where the stone comes from? He would argue no. Paley believed that we could hold that the stone could have been there forever. He then asks us to imagine an old-fashioned watch with a mechanism. Would we need to know where this comes from? Paley argues yes, that we would. We would assume that at some point someone designed the watch.
The Difference Between the Watch and the Stone
Paley believed that the difference between the stone and the watch is that the watch has elements of design and the stone doesn’t. Paley argued these elements of design included regularity, complexity and parts that worked together for a specific purpose. If the watch was designed any differently, then it wouldn’t have this purpose. It is thus reasonable to conclude that the watch must have been designed.
Paley’s Analogy With the Universe
Paley believed that the universe also has these aspects of design. One example that he pointed to was fish. Fish have regularity and complexity. Their scales and fins are perfectly adapted to them living in water. If these scales and fins were designed any differently, then they wouldn’t be able to swim around. These aspects are found throughout the universe – planets have regular orbit, birds are perfectly adapted to flight. Paley thus believed that the universe must have been designed.
Premises and Conclusion for Paley’s Design Argument
P1) The watch has aspects of design, such as complexity, regularity and purpose.
P2) The watch must have been designed.
P3)The universe also has complexity, regularity and purpose.
C1) The universe must also have been designed.
P4) The universe is vast, wonderous and far more complex than any man-made object.
C2) The universe must have been designed by God.
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26 years before Paley’s work was published, Hume managed to predict the argument and publish some criticisms which you can see here.