Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mackie on Arguments for Design

In my humble opinion Mackie demolishes “general” arguments for design in his chapter on the subject in The Miracle of Theism. Any argument for design usually tries to show that the complexity and order give us good reason to believe in God. Mackie however brings in his best buds Kant and Hume’s critique of this argument as well as a few points by himself. Mackie formulates the argument like this, not unlike Moreland’s formulation:
1. The world resembles human artifacts in that it: contains order and is a movement toward and end
            2. Human artifacts are designed by a mind
            3. Therefore the world is designed by a mind as well.

But in Hume’s Dialogues this is objected to extensively with these 5 points:
1. Is the analogy between natural order and artifacts close enough to make theism a good explanation of the former?
2. Even if the answer is “yes,” various alternative hypothesis, by their availability, weaken the confirmation of the theistic one. (pg 137)
3. Even if the theistic hypothesis would be confirmed (despite 1 and 2) the order of the divine mind would still need explaining.
            4. The existence of evil would lead one to doubt the existence of a good God
            5. This argument doesn’t prove the theistic God.

Now I think Mackie is mistaken about point 3, he makes it like this
“The argument for design, therefore, can be sustained only with the help of a supposedly a priori double-barrelled principle, that mental order (at least in god) is self-explanatory, but that all material order not only is not self-explanatory, but is positively improbable and in need in further explanation.”
But surely the theist can point out dissimilarities between mental order and material order. Or perhaps much more easily, they could deny that God has mental order and say that she simply is mental substance.

I have already discussed 1 and 2 here: 4 is a rather large and complex issue and 5 is rather obvious so I won’t discuss those. On to Kant’s critiques!

Kant’s critiques are: similar to the first point that the most any argument from design could show is that there is a divine-architect which created the world from pre-existing materials, this is because any time a human designs anything they must use pre-existing materials. Second Kant believes that the design argument depends on the cosmological argument, this is because at some point the argument from design relies on contingency which is a core part of the cosmological argument. This may be true, but it probably just depends on how the argument is formulated, in other words it may not always be the case that the proponent of this argument has to refer to contingency and even if they do perhaps they can avoid the cosmological argument.

No comments:

Post a Comment